We haven’t heard from Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson in quite awhile, but as the team starts getting ready for their first in-person training all offseason, he spoke to the media on Monday about expectations and COVID precautions put in place.
The Eagles’ coaches and staff returned to Philly in early-July for a mandated quarantine ahead of training camp, and rookies, quarterbacks and injured players returned to the team facility for COVID testing last week. The rest of the squad is scheduled to report to camp tomorrow, Tuesday, July 28.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
On training camp and roster building
The coaches get to start working with rookies on Monday, something they’re all excited for. Pederson wouldn’t go so far as to say that they aren’t expecting the rookies to contribute early on based on the limited offseason. He spoke about them being able to contribute right away on special teams, and also typically having a player or two who stands out.
Pederson said that the coaches have to get the young players caught up as quickly as they can, but he was happy with the work they put in during the virtual OTAs. He also said that they guys are in a really good place mentally, and they’ll have to challenge them during training camp.
As far as young players and new players trying to make the roster, the head coach said it’s up to him to put the guys in competitive situations to see what they can do. Especially without any preseason games, Pederson said he’ll have to get creative and maybe schedule more scrimmages and live practices to get some of the players they need to see in game-like situations.
“I’ve got to come up with ways to have game-like situations in practice, because we are missing the preseason games. It can definitely be done, we’ll be creative about it as a staff, and we’ll eventually have the answers we need at the end of camp.”
Pederson was asked about the recent MLB outbreak, and the head coach said that his hat goes out to the people throughout the Eagles organization who has had a hand in getting them to a place to get back safely to the NovaCare Complex, and he also feels hopeful and excitement about the safety measures put in place by the NFL and NFLPA.
The head coach was asked how safe he feels, and he wasn’t shy to say, “I feel extremely safe” — he called the NovaCare their bubble, with the screening process in place and wearing masks in the building. Pederson also said they have a long list of protocols to make sure everyone is as safe as possible, and they embrace that moving forward.
He’s not looking too much at what the other leagues are doing, but he emphasized that his job is to get the team ready to go for the season, and the front office and NFL will figure out the plans to keep them safe.
On re-signing Jason Peters
Pederson said that they had many conversations with the veteran, and when they looked at their roster and where he is in his career, as well as the type of leadership he brings, they thought the transition to guard would be “relatively easy.” He emphasized that it wouldn’t be outright easy, but Peters is the kind of player who would be able to make the move successfully.
The head coach also touched on Andre Dillard, and clarified that they “love where Andre is at” in his development and he’s had a “tremendous offseason.” Pederson said this will be a good opportunity for Dillard moving forward.
Pederson didn’t want to get in depth, but said all the guys are doing well, but they don’t rush guys to get back on the field. He said that the good thing about this acclimation phase during camp that the injured guys can work in that phase as well, and hopefully be ready for the season.
The head coach said that Brandon Brooks and Rodney McLeod back in the building, and all the guys who finished on injured reserve last year.
Alshon Jeffery was one of the guys who was allowed to come back early, he’s doing really well and is putting himself in a spot to come back early. He was rehabbing and working despite the pandemic. There’s still no timetable on his return, however.
Pederson also acknowledged that the COVID situation definitely makes him have to have plans in place for possible infections. He’s thought about it quite a bit as he returned to the facility, and having plans in place now carries over to the coaching staff and any staff member who might miss a few days or weeks with the virus — they have to plan for everything.