Eagles

Business trumps birthdays as Eagles finally practice

Business trumps birthdays as Eagles finally practice

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — The Eagles' first practice in Minnesota was held Wednesday without pads, and head coach Doug Pederson said the Eagles won't be padding up at all this week.

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

Practice is closed to the media other than a league-designated pool reporter, who watched practice and filed a report that is issued by the NFL.

The Eagles arrived in Minnesota on Sunday but didn't begin their practice week until Wednesday — their usual first day of practice. It followed three days of media obligations.

The team practiced indoors Wednesday at the Gibson-Nagurski Complex on the campus of the University of Minnesota, about 12 miles from their hotel.

The Eagles practiced with a 30-minute intermission, which Pederson said was designed to replicate the extended halftime they'll experience in Super Bowl LII against the Patriots Sunday.

“I think it’s important that the guys get it in their minds how much time that is,” Pederson told pool reporter Kimberley Martin of the Washington Post.

“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.”

Pederson said the halftime break was a one-time thing. The Eagles will also practice Thursday and Friday. Pederson said practice didn't have the same sharpness after the extended break.

“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 focused on first- and second-down situations Wednesday, according to the pool report.

“This is just like we were back in Philly,” Pederson said.

Running back Jay Ajayi (ankle), defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (calf) and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring) were all full participants Wednesday.

Defensive tackle Tim Jernigan missed practice with an illness, which Pederson called “a 24-hour deal.”

Wednesday was Pederson's 50th birthday and his players and coaches sang him Happy Birthday to end practice.

Pederson said he has no plans to celebrate though.

“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," he said.

"We’re going to keep grinding and cranking as coaches tonight."

Pederson interviewing 2 for Eagles' OC job

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Pederson interviewing 2 for Eagles' OC job

While many folks are off for Presidents Day, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson is hard at work trying to figure out how to replace Frank Reich. 

Pederson is spending his Monday interviewing running backs coach Duce Staley and wide receivers coach Mike Groh for the Eagles' vacant offensive coordinator position, a league source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia. ESPN's Tim McManus first reported the news Monday. 

It's possible one or both coaches could take over in some sort of offensive coordinator role. 

Reich left his post as offensive coordinator earlier this month when he accepted the head coaching job in Indianapolis. While it might not seem like an OC who doesn't call the plays has a big role, Reich was a good sounding board for Pederson and seemed to be very-well trusted by the head coach. He also helped put the weekly gameplan together. 

It makes sense that the Eagles don't want to go outside the organization to hire an offensive coordinator. Pederson trusts Staley and Groh and the chemistry inside the NovaCare Complex was tremendous during the Eagles' run to Super Bowl LII. 

Either way, Pederson is going to oversee the offense and call plays. Staley or Groh, if one or both are promoted, will handle some extra responsibility, but it'll still all be on Pederson. 

While Staley has been with the Eagles as a coach since 2011, working his way up from a quality control coach to running backs coach in 2013, Groh is a newcomer. He was added to the staff before the 2017 season to take over for Greg Lewis after the Eagles fired him. Groh did an impressive job last season, particularly with helping transform Nelson Agholor from a bust to one of the team's more explosive weapons. 

LeGarrette Blount makes his desire to stay in Philly clear

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LeGarrette Blount makes his desire to stay in Philly clear

LeGarrette Blount is fresh off of his third Super Bowl title and second in two years with two different teams. 

It sounds like he doesn't really want to go to a third team in three years. 

Blount, 31, played on a one-year deal worth around $1.25 million with the Eagles in 2017, but is set to become an unrestricted free agent when the new league year starts on March 14. He made it pretty clear on Sunday that he wouldn't mind coming back to Philly for another run. 

"It's early so we'll see," Blount said on NFL Network. 

"Obviously I like it a lot there. They like me a lot there. It's a mutual respect and a mutual agreement thing about how we feel about each other. Obviously, you guys know how I feel about the team, the guys; I love those guys. 

"I can't say enough about Duce (Staley), just for the simple fact for how well I was coached there and how good he helped me understand things. I feel like Duce is one of the best running back coaches, one of the best coaches I've ever had in my entire life. I obviously want to be a part of that for a while, so we'll see how it goes."

Blount began the year as the Eagles' top running back, but lost some of his role once the team traded for former Pro Bowler Jay Ajayi. But Blount still played a significant role in the Eagles' run to winning Super Bowl LII. 

During the season, he was the team's top rusher with 173 carries for 766 yards and two touchdowns. But then in Super Bowl LII, he had 14 carries for 90 yards and a touchdown, helping the Eagles to a 41-33 win over his former team, the Patriots. 

The Eagles are going to bring back Ajayi and second-year player Corey Clement. After that, things get murky. Blount and Darren Sproles (coming off injury) are both set to become free agents. 

Blount wasn't shy about his love for the Eagles during his interview on Sunday. He cited trust and how they handled the Ajayi trade with him as big reasons why. 

"They talked to me throughout the process of it happening," Blount said. "They were like, 'we're trading for Jay Ajayi, we just want to let you know.' Like I said, that's obviously another big thing for me, the honesty in that building and how open they are and how they don't keep any kind of secrets for you. They just tell you how it is. It's a big respect thing. Duce was the first person to reach out to me and be like, 'hey, we traded for Jay Ajayi. I just want to let you know.' Again, man, that's why it's a place that I love and I hope to stay there." 

Late in the six-and-a-half minute video, the crew brought out Clement while Blount was answering a question about the rookie. Blount laughed during the middle of his answer, but then got back on track and praised Clement. The two became very close during the 2017 season. 

After Blount's answer, Clement got to chat with his teammate and said getting to work with Blount was a "tremendous opportunity" and would clearly like to keep the core group together in the running back room next season. 

Obviously, it's not up to Clement, but Blount will play a big role and we already know what he thinks of the Eagles.