Eagles

5 takeaways from Doug Pederson's Eagles rookie camp press conference

5 takeaways from Doug Pederson's Eagles rookie camp press conference

As the Eagles kicked off their three-day rookie camp on Friday, Doug Pederson answered questions for about 14 minutes. 

“How about those Sixers, right?” Pederson said as he got to the lectern. “Stay alive, Game 7, love it.” 

Here are a few takeaways: 

1. Wentz’s health 

Doug Pederson didn’t want to talk too much about Carson Wentz’s health or recovery from a stress fracture in his back on Friday morning. This was his response when asked if Wentz will be ready for OTAs: 

“How does that pertain to rookie minicamp?” he fired back. 

While Pederson wouldn’t say definitively if Wentz will be ready for OTAs, which begin on May 21, he said Wentz has been on the field in recent Phase 2 workouts. Pederson said they’ll address it when OTAs arrive, so stay tuned. 

“Encouraged by his progress and where he’s at, just looking forward to the next few weeks with him,” Pederson said.  

2. Cross-training OTs 

Pederson was asked about his surplus of offensive tackles and if they’ll cross-train some of them to play interior offensive line. He said they like to do that and made it seem like the most obvious candidate to cross-train inside will be Halapoulivaati Vaitai. With Andre Dillard now on the team, that is the most obvious way to make Big V more useful. 

From this exchange with the head coach, here’s what to expect this spring and summer: 

Big V: To get some training at guard. 

Jordan Mailata: To get some training at right tackle in addition to LT

Andre Dillard: To learn the tackle position, primarily LT, first 

3. Vets in front of rookies 

While this rookie camp keeps veteran players away, the vets will join them at the NovaCare Complex for OTAs starting May 21. The top three draft picks are behind veterans on the depth chart for now. 

Andre Dillard —> Jason Peters

Miles Sanders —> Jordan Howard 

JJ Arcega-Whiteside —> Alshon Jeffery 

It might seem like a strange situation, and it is, but the veterans are expected to help the guys who might one day take their jobs. That’s one of the weird parts about professional sports. Pederson is looking forward to when the rookies get around these veterans. While Howard is new here, we’ve seen Peters and Jeffery be very willing to help younger players in recent years. 

4. The quarterbacks 

The two quarterbacks in camp are fifth-round pick Clayton Thorson and former AAF player Luis Perez. Pederson said there are a few things he can see from quarterbacks in this very limited camp: 

• How they command the huddle 

• How well they pick up the offense

• How well they toss the ol’ pigskin 

5. Goals for the 3-day camp 

Pederson outlined his goals for the three-day camp, which runs through Sunday: 

1. Come out healthy 
2. See how draft picks handle scheme 
3. Begin to see how to use these players 

Speaking about coming out healthy, Pederson had a black sleeve on his left leg after offseason surgery to his left ankle. He said he’s about 60 percent, but was running practice like normal from the middle of the field. 

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Are the 2019 Eagles better or worse at linebacker?

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Are the 2019 Eagles better or worse at linebacker?

The Eagles let a promising-yet-oft-injured potential star walk in the offseason, though the team was not idle, adding two quality players to mix. Will the linebackers be better off as a result in 2019?

Key additions: L.J. Fort (free agent, Steelers), Zach Brown (free agent, Redskins) 

Key departures: Jordan Hicks (free agent, Cardinals)

Why they could be better: Depth

Last summer, the battle for the Eagles’ third linebacker job was between Kamu Grugier-Hill and Nate Gerry, neither of whom played much up to that point, and Corey Nelson, who didn’t even make the team. Grugier-Hill and Gerry are still in the mix here, though the competition for spots two through seven behind Nigel Bradham will be much stiffer.

Jordan Hicks’ departure does create another hole in the starting lineup, one likely to be filled by either L.J. Fort, Zach Brown or Grugier-Hill. But that trio all bring experience to the table — Brown has been to a Pro Bowl — plus Paul Worrilow returns from a torn ACL, offering another veteran presence. Gerry got some opportunities last year, and even he’ll be pushed by CFL star Alex Singleton and undrafted rookie/ All-American T.J. Edwards. How much deeper is this group? In 2018, the guys behind LB4 Gerry were all exclusively special teamers.

Why they could be worse: Down a playmaker

How much will the Eagles miss Hicks? Hard to say. They won a Super Bowl without him in 2017, and after missing more time last season, he eventually returned to find Bradham had taken over as the defense’s No. 1 linebacker. Can’t blame the club for its unwillingness to match $36 million over four years for somebody who’s injured so frequently.

That being said, there’s no denying Hicks seemingly has a nose for the football. He played only 43 games over four seasons, yet managed to amass 19 pass breakups, 7 interceptions, 5.0 sacks, 1 forced fumble, six fumble recoveries and 12 tackles for loss. Only a small handful of players even come close to matching that big play production during the same span – none with at least as many of each, and all in at least 10 more games. When he’s on the field, Hicks is a difference-maker, an ability as difficult to replace as it can be to quantify.

The X-factor: Who takes Hicks’ spot?

It was kind of surprising Brown was still on the street in May. Sure, he turns 30 this year, coming off a season in which he lost his starting job in Washington and is nowhere near the impact player he was earlier in his career. He still posted over 200 tackles, 3.5 sacks, 2 forced fumbles and 22 tackles for loss over the last two years.

Brown may be best suited for LB3 snaps in the Eagles’ defense. There’s not a lot of blitzing, minimizing one of his best attributes of rushing the passer, and as he’s aged, his coverage ability has seemingly diminished. Yet, he’s still stout against the run, and who else is it going to be? This could wind up becoming more of a platoon role, with Brown seeing first- and second-down snaps, then either Fort or Grugier-Hill in the nickel. There’s potential in such an arrangement. The question is whether opponents will be able to attack the shortcomings of Hicks’ part-time replacements.

Are the Eagles’ linebackers better or worse?

There’s a chance the Eagles let a special one go in Hicks, but the bottom line is he’s seldom available anyway — an issue that issue dates back to college, by the way. On paper, you probably take Hicks over the field, including Bradham. However, in reality, having a bunch of competent, experienced players who will actually be in uniform might be the safer route at this point. BETTER

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The real reason this Kansas City radio host's attack on Andy Reid was out of line

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The real reason this Kansas City radio host's attack on Andy Reid was out of line

I get why people are so outraged by the comments made Monday by a Kansas City radio host who linked Tyreek Hill’s off-the-field issues with the death seven years ago of Andy Reid’s son Garrett.

The guy tried to make a case that Big Red’s inability to be a strict disciplinarian as both a parent and a coach was responsible for both. 

“It did not work out particularly well in his family life,“ is what Kevin Kietzman of Sports Radio 810 WHB said. “He’s had a lot of things go bad on him, family and players. He is not good at fixing people. He is not good at discipline.”

Of course, these sort of remarks are irresponsible, hurtful and off-base. But you consider the source and they're probably not all that surprising.

And let's be honest. We all understand you don’t record the eighth-most wins of any NFL head coach in history and the seventh-most playoff wins without being able to discipline players when it’s necessary. We’ve all seen coaches who truly are bad at this stuff, and they don’t have three losing seasons in 20 years. They don’t last three years.

So yeah, this isn’t about that. Andy doesn’t need to be defended. Not about this.

And outrage distracts us from the real point. The real shame of Kietzman’s comments is that he connects a lack of discipline with heroin addiction.

Garrett Reid, Andy’s oldest son, died during training camp in Bethlehem seven years ago from a heroin overdose after a long battle with addiction, and the notion that his death somehow was the result of his father not disciplining him enough shows such a lack of understanding of addiction and substance abuse.

Addiction is a mental health disorder. It’s a disease.

It’s not a weakness. It’s not a character flaw. It’s not a lack of discipline.

Treatment can help, but it’s a long and difficult process. The changes substance abuse cause in a person’s brain, the addictive traits of heroin and other opioids, make recovery difficult and in some cases impossible.

Garrett was a good kid, a smart kid, and he and his family battled his addiction for years.

Here’s part of Andy’s statement the evening Garrett died:

“We understood that Garrett's long-standing battle with addiction was going to be difficult. He will, however, always have our family's love and respect for the courage he showed in trying to overcome it.”

This guy doesn’t know Andy and the battle he and his family fought to try and help Garrett through that battle.

Addiction and substance abuse have become such an epidemic in our communities. Big city. Small town. Everywhere. All of us know someone who’s lost a family member. All of us have either directly or indirectly felt that pain.

What Kietzman said is wrong in so many ways, but worst of all is how he trivializes addiction by implying that a little parental discipline would have saved Garrett Reid’s life.

This was a horrible thing to say for a lot of reasons, and it’s been nice to see so many of Andy’s former players rallying behind him on social media.

No parents should have to go through what Andy and his family went through seven summers ago at Lehigh. No parents should have to go through this either.

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