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."

Breaking down 6 young Eagles Doug Pederson is impressed with

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USA Today Images

Breaking down 6 young Eagles Doug Pederson is impressed with

On Thursday, before the final practice of the long spring, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson was asked if there were any players lower on the depth chart who have stood out over the last few weeks. 

Pederson started by mentioning some players who came into the league last year. Eventually, he named six guys. 

Let’s take a look at each of them. 

Rashard Davis
The first name to come out of his mouth. Not bad for a first-year player from James Madison. Davis is 5-foot-9, 175. The receiver also has the ability to return, something we’ve seen him do since he’s been with the Eagles. 

Davis was signed as an undrafted free agent a year ago and spent most of the 2017 season on the practice squad. He was signed to a futures deal after the completion of the season. 

At JMU, Davis was a standout receiver and returner, on his way to being named an FCS All-American. Davis returned four punts for touchdowns and had 42 catches for 530 yards and three more touchdowns as a receiver. 

With the Eagles, he faces an uphill battle to make the roster, but they seem to like his versatility. 

Greg Ward
Pederson mentioned Davis and Ward in the same breath and it’s easy to see why. Both are smallish slot receivers who were a part of the same undrafted class. Ward’s story is slightly different though. At 5-11, 186, Ward was a prolific quarterback at the University of Houston but is making the transition to receiver at the NFL level. 

He was signed as an undrafted player last year and spent the season on the Eagles’ practice squad, at times taking over scout-team QB reps to imitate mobile quarterbacks. 

While at Houston, he proved to be a dual threat. He was a good passer, but his legs made him dangerous. This spring, Ward got some run with the first-team offense and the Eagles seemed to like his trick-play potential. This past week, we saw the offense run some trick plays with him, where he became the passer. On one, he even threw the ball to Nick Foles, sort of like the Philly Special. 

Shelton Gibson 
Last year, Gibson was a fifth-round pick out of West Virginia, but he didn't get to play a ton. He caught just two passes all season and they came in that regular-season finale against the Cowboys. 

But Gibson has looked good this spring (see story). That's a really good sign because he had a terrible spring and terrible summer as a rookie. It was probably in part because he came from a really simple college offense and had to pick up the Eagles' complex scheme. 

This year, he's thinking less and making more plays. 

Rasul Douglas 
It seems a little weird to put Douglas on this list after he was a third-round pick a year ago and then started five games in the Super Bowl season, but he’s buried on the depth chart. 

The thing that hurts Douglas is his body type. He’s strictly an outside cornerback. So while Sidney Jones, De’Vante Bausby and D.J. Killings have gotten first-team reps in the slot, Douglas is planted firmly behind Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby at outside corner. He’s probably behind Jones either way. 

That’s gotta be tough for Douglas, going from starter to being back on the bench. But he’s the perfect example of the depth this team has at the position. Pederson says Douglas has “emerged” this spring. 

Dallas Goedert
It’s no surprise Pederson is bullish on Goedert, whom he said is “going to be a nice fit for us as a tight end.” The rookie from South Dakota State had a great spring. He caught everything and is an athletic specimen. 

There’s a really good chance Goedert can be a monster in the red zone (see story).

Still, a long way to go, and we’ll see what happens when the pads go on, but there’s no reason to think Goedert can’t be a huge contributor as a rookie. 

Aziz Shittu
Probably a name you haven’t heard in a while, but Shittu has stood out as much as any defensive tackle can in non-padded practices. 

Shittu came to the Eagles as an undrafted free agent from Stanford in 2016. But thanks to that stupid college graduation rule he missed all those spring practices. That allowed another undrafted rookie (Destiny Vaeao) to get in front of him and Shittu never recovered. He was brought back to the practice squad in 2016 and then signed a futures contract before last season, but then suffered a knee injury in May and was placed on IR. 

It appears he’s healthy now and is showing some of that burst that made him intriguing to the Eagles in the first place. 

Eagle Eye: The Eagles got some really big rings

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Eagles

Eagle Eye: The Eagles got some really big rings

In the latest edition of Eagle Eye, Derrick Gunn and Barrett Brooks discuss the Eagles' Super Bowl rings. How does it compare to what Barrett got with the Steelers championship winning team in 2006? How will the players spend these coming weeks off? And the guys get you ready for the weekend.

1:00 - Eagles get their rings.
5:00 - Should Gunner and Barrett have gotten rings?
8:30 - What are those parties like?
11:00 - How hard is it to move on from last year and look ahead?
13:00 - This is when Super Bowls are won.
15:00 - Guys get you ready for the weekend with some weird news stories over this week.

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