5 quick tidbits from Doug Pederson’s hour with reporters

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5 quick tidbits from Doug Pederson’s hour with reporters

PHOENIX — As has become customary, Doug Pederson sat down in front of a round table overflowing with reporters and jokingly checked his watch. It’s an hour-long media session and he wants to time it himself. 

Pederson is hobbled this week at the owners meetings taking place at the luxurious Arizona Biltmore. He had surgery on his left ankle, where a bone spur was rubbing his Achilles tendon. The operation shaved down the bone and has Pederson in a boot for 10 weeks. Just a few more weeks with the Roll-A-Bout. 

The two biggest pieces of news to come out of the hour-long breakfast session: 

1. Pederson is optimistic about Wentz’s availability for OTAs (see story).

2. The Eagles will host the Ravens for joint practices in the third week of training camp (see story).

But there were plenty of other nuggets in the lengthy session. Here are a few more takeaways. 

Corners in the mix

The Eagles brought back Ronald Darby on a one-year contract, so they now have a group of six talented and young cornerbacks: Darby, Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox, Sidney Jones and Cre’Von LeBlanc. 

Doug seemed excited to get Darby back. He said Darby was having a “really good season” before his injury in 2018. 

After that, the lineup seems far from figured out. Pederson mentioned Avonte Maddox can play in a lot of different spots. One of them is as the nickel cornerback, so that’s a possibility for 2019. But Pederson also mentioned LeBlanc’s name a few times, so he’s still in the mix at that position. 

With Mills and Darby coming off injuries, we might not get a good sense of the Eagles’ starters at corner for a while. There will likely be some competition in training camp. 

DeSean TD story 

When DeSean Jackson signed his contract with the Eagles after being traded, he shared a story about Pederson from Week 2 in Tampa when the Eagles played DeSean and the Bucs. Pederson filled in the blanks of the story on Tuesday morning. 

Earlier in the game, first quarter, after he had just scored there was another play on our sideline. He looks at me and says something like ‘You never should have let me go, you never should have let me go!’ And I was like ‘I wasn’t even there, I wasn’t even there!’ And then that play happened, I think Corey Clement got dinged down by the goal line, and I walked out and DeSean was there and I was asked him like ‘Why you mad at me, why you mad at me?’…So we had a little exchange that game, it was fun.

Pederson and Jackson have a relationship that dates back to 2009. That will be important. 

Mulling retirement

While they are in different situations from a contract perspective, Darren Sproles and Chris Long are both mulling over the possibility of retiring. Sproles, 35, is a free agent, while Long, 34, is still under contract. 

Pederson said he would like to have Sproles back. Likewise with Long, who hasn’t given the Eagles any indication yet. 

Pederson didn’t seem like he’s in a rush to get an answer from either player. He said they are veterans who will take care of themselves even if they are away from the team. 

Wiz and Bennett are gone 

The Eagles traded Michael Bennett and didn’t pick up the option on Stefen Wisniewski’s contract, so both veterans are now off the team. 

Pederson said similar things about both — they’ll get opportunities to start elsewhere and play more than they would have with the Eagles. It was still somewhat questionable to let both of them go, but Bennett will be a starter in New England and there’s a chance Wisniewski will find a starting job elsewhere. He’s still a free agent. This will give the Eagles a chance to get their younger players more playing time, Pederson said. 

Harper video 

When he was asked about Bryce Harper, Pederson revealed he made a recruitment video to help lure Harper to Philly. What did he say in the video?

“I can’t remember. I did say this. He is my father-in-law’s favorite player, so I said, ‘If you come to Philly, maybe I’ll see my father-in-law more than once a year.’”

For some, that wouldn’t be a good thing, but Pederson clarified that he likes his father-in-law.

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Lane Johnson would have ‘done the same s---' as Maurkice Pouncey did after Myles Garrett incident

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Lane Johnson would have ‘done the same s---' as Maurkice Pouncey did after Myles Garrett incident

Lane Johnson thought the same thing everyone else did when he saw Myles Garrett rip off Mason Rudolph’s helmet and bop him over the head with it. 

“Oh s---,” Johnson said. “That was my reaction. Oh my God.” 

Johnson didn’t see it live, but he saw the incident when he woke up on Friday morning. That’s how many people saw those events that took place very late in the Browns’ 21-7 win over the Steelers on Thursday night. 

The NFL on Friday levied huge penalties. Both teams were fined $250,000. Garrett was suspended for at least the rest of this year. Garrett’s teammate Larry Ogunjobi was suspended for one game. 

And Pittsburgh center Maurkice Pouncey, who came to the defense of Rudolph after the helmet blow, was suspended three games. 

What would Johnson have done if the same thing happened to Carson Wentz? 

“Probably done the same s--- Pouncey did,” Johnson said. “What are you supposed to do? If you don’t do anything, it’s not gonna look good.”

While this incident was the talk of the locker room on Friday afternoon after those penalties came down, as you might imagine, most players weren’t eager to talk on record about it. Daeshon Hall, who was teammates with Garrett at Texas A&M, was conveniently the only person in the country who hadn’t seen anything of note on Thursday night. He walked out of the locker room feigning obliviousness in a maroon Aggies sweatshirt. 

Johnson, who is never one to shy away from a microphone, called the incident “unfortunate” but said he thinks Garrett can learn from it. For what it’s worth, Garrett did release an apologetic statement on Friday. 

Johnson called Garrett one of the best defensive ends in the NFL and has met him before. 

“He’s pretty quiet,” Johnson said. “Piss somebody off, it comes out of them. It is what it is.”

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Eagles reportedly 'intend to sign' running back Jay Ajayi

Eagles reportedly 'intend to sign' running back Jay Ajayi

Jay Ajayi was indeed in the NovaCare Complex on Friday morning for a workout and it apparently went well. 

According to a report, the Eagles “intend to sign” Ajayi. 

Not sure what kind of negotiations are going on for a running back coming off an ACL surgery with already questionable knees, who was available in mid-November, but apparently, those negotiations are ongoing. I’d imagine it won’t take long for Ajayi to sign. 

On Friday morning, we learned why the Eagles were interested in Ajayi. Darren Sproles is out for the year and Jordan Howard has a stinger and hasn’t yet been cleared for contact.

That left Miles Sanders and Boston Scott as the only healthy running backs on the roster. Sanders is the only healthy running back from the original 53-man roster. 

Earlier this morning, Pederson confirmed that Ajayi was in the building. 

“We'll see where he’s at physically, see where he is health-wise,” he said.

Apparently, Ajayi’s knee checked out. 

It’s hard to believe, but Ajayi is still just 26. He’s coming off an ACL tear last season and he already had issues with his knees, which is the easiest explanation for why he’s unsigned in November. 

Because during his career, Ajayi has been a really good player. He has a career yards-per-carry average of 4.5 and was very good for the Eagles during their Super Bowl run in 2017 and even the first quarter of the 2018 season. 

During last season, Ajayi wasn’t shy about how important the contract season was for him. He wanted to earn a big contract somewhere, but that was derailed by the ACL injury. 

The Eagles initially picked up Ajayi for a fourth-round pick at the 2017 trade deadline. Before that deal, there were questions about Ajayi’s locker room presence, but he ended up being a great fit in Philly and helped seal a Super Bowl title. 

It’s also important to remember that Ajayi hasn’t played in over a year. He tore his ACL on Oct. 7 last season. He probably won’t be able to carry a heavy workload early or perhaps ever again, but the Eagles obviously think he might have something left.