Eagles focus on halftime break during Wednesday practice

Eagles focus on halftime break during Wednesday practice

According to the pool report from the Washington Post's Kimberley Martin -- filed from the University of Minnesota, where the Eagles are practicing this week -- down time was the focus of the team's first workout. 

Because of the abnormally long (about 30 minutes) halftime break during the Super Bowl, coach Doug Pederson wanted to make sure his players understood what they'll be dealing with on Sunday in terms of cooling down and warming back up. 

The Eagles will not be in pads this week, Pederson told Martin, which is in stark contrast to the approach taken by their opponents. The Patriots wore full pads on Wednesday.

Read Martin's full pool report below. 

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MINNEAPOLIS — Bass blared from the speakers as the Philadelphia Eagles began their week of practice Wednesday afternoon inside the Gibson-Nagurski Complex at the University of Minnesota.

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Doug Pederson’s team looked relaxed, but focused as players returned to work for the first time during Super Bowl week. Quarterback Nick Foles delivered quick, crisp passes to Nelson Agholor and Torrey Smith to start the session, and from there, the offense rolled. Everything was humming for the first half of practice, even the Eagles’ D.J., who managed to seamlessly transition from Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” into James Brown’s “Living in America.” Then, right at 3 p.m., the music died down, the scissor lift used to record practice lowered to the ground, and players and coaches began filing out of the facility.

For 30 minutes, the room fell almost silent as the Eagles simulated a halftime break, save for the intermittent sounds of footballs being tossed around by a few staffers, injured starting quarterback Carson Wentz and executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman. All that was missing was the boy-band falsetto of Justin Timberlake, the Super Bowl LII halftime performer.

“I think it’s important that the guys get it in their minds how much time that is,” Pedersen explained after practice, which ended later than expected due to the midway break. “We’re normally working on 13-, 14-minute halftime and now it’s twice as long and guys’ bodies cool down. So I want to make sure they understand that we have to go in, we’ve got to stay focused, but at the same time we can refuel and kind of recharge. Coaches can coach and then get our guys warmed back up to come back out.  So on Sunday they know exactly what they can do.”

The halftime simulation was a one-time thing reserved for the first practice of the week. And it served its purpose. The second half of practice was anything but smooth. “I thought it was a little sloppy, which is good, because this is something that I can address in our meetings tonight,” Pederson said. “Again, it’s another teachable moment so we’re not doing it on Sunday.”

The Eagles conducted practice as though it was a regular Wednesday at their NovaCare Complex, focusing on first- and second-down situations primarily. “This is just like we were back in Philly,” the coach said.

Pederson’s squad is all but healthy, with running back Jay Ajayi (ankle), defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (calf) and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring) all full participants. Defensive tackle Tim Jernigan, however, missed their morning media availability and practice due to an illness, Pederson said, adding that the team doesn’t believe Jernigan has the flu but rather “a 24-hour deal.”

Jernigan did not practice on Friday in Philly before making the trip to Minnesota and it’s unclear if he’ll be healthy enough to practice Thursday.

The Eagles will return on Thursday to the Gibson-Nagurski Complex where they’ll hold their second practice. Peterson, who turned 50 on Wednesday, said players won’t be in pads at all this week.

“We’re in the last week of the season,” he said, flashing a smile. “And if they don’t know how to hit by now, you know?"

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With only four more days to go until Super Bowl LII, it’s business as usual for the Eagles. But players and coaches took time to sing “Happy Birthday” to Pederson before they broke down the huddle at the end of practice.

Asked if he has any plans for his special day, Pedersen said: “I am a big ice cream guy. But no, we’re going to be stuck in meetings tonight, so there’s no rest for the weary. We’re going to keep grinding and cranking as coaches tonight.”


Report: James Harrison could return to Patriots

File Photo

Report: James Harrison could return to Patriots

James Harrison was a larger than life figure during his time in Pittsburgh. 

It was as if God molded him to be a member of the Steelers: massive, physical, and an absolute bruiser.

But at the end of the day he is a football player. And athletes in this sport don't particuarly like time on the bench.

Mike Tomlin and the rest of the Steelers organization were reminded of this fact in a very harsh manner.

At the end of the December, Harrison made a late season move to sign with the Patriots. It left his former teammates in Pittsburgh frustrated, and his former fans confused.

But at the end of the day he just wanted to be on the football field again. And that's exactly where Belichick put him.

Harrison had the opportunity to appear in many more situations, and had several sacks at the end of the season.

Now there is a new report from Christopher Price of the Boston Sports Journal that he could re-sign with the Patriots in 2018.

A source close to Price and Harrison said "there's a reasonable chance" that he could be on the roster next year.

He will be playing this upcoming season at age 40, and has previously stated he'd like to play one or two more seasons.


King: It was football, not family that kept McDaniels with Patriots

King: It was football, not family that kept McDaniels with Patriots

There have been all kinds of theories of what ultimately kept Josh McDaniels from taking the Indianapolis Colts head coaching job.

NBC Sports Boston Patriots Insider Tom E. Curran offered his here and here. Ex-Pats linebacker Willie McGinest said he was told it wasn't because McDaniels was promised to eventually succeed Bill Belichick. 

Now comes Sports Illustrated's Peter King, who told NBCSports Network's "PFT Live" that you can cross off the theory that McDaniels' reversal was about not wanting to move his family to Indianapolis. 

“This had nothing to do with his family,” King said. “It was about the Patriots giving him a better option than Indianapolis.”

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