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. 

* * * * * 

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.”


Jaguars considering Jalen Ramsey trade

Jaguars considering Jalen Ramsey trade

According to Adam Schefter, the Jacksonville Jaguars are considering trading star cornerback Jalen Ramsey this offseason. 

Ramsey was drafted with the fifth pick in the 2016 NFL Draft and quickly became one of the best corners in the league. While coverage may be the best skill in Ramey's repertoire, his outspoken nature has pushed the Jaguars towards a trade. 

One of the most documented instances was when he called out Rob Gronkowski for not being, "As great as people think he is." The Patriots took down the Jaguars last season in the AFC title game, but the Jags got their revenge earlier this season with a 31-20 win in Week 2. 

Jacksonville is now 3-6 and at risk of missing the playoffs after a banner year for the franchise. 

Whether Bill Belichick would be interested in acquiring the talented corner is unknown, but this marks another example of Patriots rivals that seem to unravel by their own doing. The Eagles are 4-5 and can't seem to recapture last season's magic, the LeVeon Bell situation still looms over the Steelers, and now Ramsey's departure could mean the end of the Jaguars' staunch defense. 

A lot changes in the NFL from year-to-year, and even though the Patriots have had their fair share of issues since Super Bowl 52, they still remain the constant force in the NFL. 

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Rob Gronkowski (back) expected to play vs Jets

Rob Gronkowski (back) expected to play vs Jets

The Patriots will come off their bye week rested and ready to finish the season strong, and now they can expect to get their star tight end back too. 

New England went 2-1 in Gronkowski's absence, with wins over Green Bay and Chicago as well as an ugly loss in Tennessee. 

The Patriots offense was one of the most potent in the league before injuries piled up for Gronkowski, and Sony Michel. With both of them back and healthy after the bye, scoring points should bot be difficult for Tom Brady. 

New England will face off against the Jets next week, followed by the Vikings, Dolphins and Steelers. 

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