Eagles

Doug Pederson explains decision to replace practice with walkthrough

Doug Pederson explains decision to replace practice with walkthrough

Doug Pederson replaced Wednesday’s full-pads practice with a shirts-and-shorts walkthrough, an unusual but not unprecedented move, but rare this early in the season.

Pederson said the walkthrough would be “much longer” than a typical day-before-the-game walkthrough, so it sounds like the Eagles will be out there as long as a real practice — or close to it — but they’ll be running plays at a slower pace and working in shorts and shirts.

The Eagles had a very physical night game on a turf field in Atlanta Sunday night, didn't arrive back in Philadelphia until early Monday morning and are in the middle of three games in 12 days.

Pederson gave three reasons for the change:

1. If the Eagles ran a full practice, guys like DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery and Dallas Goedert, who are all banged up, would not be able to participate. In a walkthrough, often described as “a meeting on the practice field,” it appears they will be able to. That’s a positive sign that the Eagles haven’t ruled those three out for Sunday.

2. For guys like receivers JJ Arcega Whiteside and Mack Hollins and TE Alex Ellis, who could have larger roles than they’re used to, a walkthrough means they don’t have to spend valuable time running scout team.

3. After Sunday’s game against the Lions, the Eagles have a short week before facing the Packers on Thursday in Green Bay. A walkthrough helps in recovery when faced with two games in five days.

“I want these guys as fresh as possible obviously for these next two weeks,” he said. “I’ve got to think of the big picture here. It’s early in our season and keeping guys as fresh as possible now so we can make a push later in the season.”

The Eagles are coming off a loss in Atlanta that dropped them to 1-1, and they lost a bunch of guys to injuries during — and before — the game.

Defensive tackle Tim Jernigan is out for at least several weeks, but Pederson seems optimistic that the rest of them — Jeffery (calf), Jackson (abdominal strain), Goedert (calf) and Corey Clement (shoulder) — at least have a chance to go Sunday.

If the Eagles had already ruled that group out, it wouldn’t make sense to adjust a practice to accommodate them.

Pederson since he got here has seemed to have a very good feel for what his team needs. When he needs to push them harder, when he needs to back off.

The Eagles are 4-0 in Thursday games under Pederson, although their two last year included the season opener — so they weren’t coming off a game — and a road game against the Giants.

One byproduct of a half-speed walkthrough is that players don’t get the aerobic benefit that they would get with a two-hour full-speed practice.

Pederson said he has to trust his players to get that work on their own over then next few days if they need it.

“I challenged the team this morning this way and my leadership council to really take it upon themselves to … stay mentally focused, mentally sharp,” Pederson said. “If they have to get any conditioning in between or after practice they do their own conditioning today, tomorrow and the rest of the week. But having a veteran group who can handle it does make it easier to adjust the schedule in this way.”

For the record, Pederson said Carson Wentz, who took a pretty good shot to the ribs Sunday, is fine and would have been a full participant if the Eagles had run a normal practice.

Interesting to note that Packers coach Matt LeFleur did the exact same thing as Pederson, according to Rob Demovsky, who covers the Packers for ESPN.

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What has Miles Sanders done to turn his season around?

What has Miles Sanders done to turn his season around?

Remember how overmatched Miles Sanders looked after gaining just 25 yards on 11 carries in the opener against the Redskins? Remember how lost he looked a week later when he was just 10-for-28 in Atlanta?

Three weeks into his rookie season, Sanders was averaging 3.1 yards per carry and ranked 28th out of 33 qualifying running backs.

Six from the bottom.

Since then?

Sanders has blossomed.

In the Eagles’ last nine games, Sanders is averaging 5.1 yards per carry, 7th-best in the league of 53 backs during that span.

Six from the top.

In a season with very few positives, Sanders’ development has been fun to watch.

What’s been the difference?

Sanders is just seeing things better, he’s running more decisively and he's moving the chains forward.

Nothing demonstrates that better than his percentage of carries that have gone for one or fewer yards.

In his first game, more than half his carries went for one or fewer yards (6 of 10). Through five games he was still at 35 percent, with 19 of 53 runs that went less than two yards.

In the last seven games, that number has dropped precipitously. Of his 62 carries since the Vikings game, only nine — nine of 62 — have been one or fewer yards. 

“I feel like I’ve been getting better and better each week,” the second-round pick from Penn State said. “Everybody’s been telling me that, but most importantly, I’ve been noticing it myself, just trying to get better and do it each week. I feel more confident just as far as reading where I’m supposed to be, getting my eyes in the right place and just playing ball out there.”

Sanders has 520 rushing yards and needs 118 to break LeSean McCoy’s franchise rookie rushing record of 637, set in 2009.

He has 879 scrimmage yards and needs 130 to break DeSean Jackson’s franchise rookie scrimmage yards record of 1,008, set in 2008.

Going into this weekend, he was second to Raiders 1st-round pick Josh Jacobs among rookies with 879 scrimmage yards and fourth in rushing (behind Jacobs, David Montgomery and Devin Singletary).

Is Doug Pederson using Sanders enough?

That’s a different question. 

Sanders is averaging 4.5 yards per carry overall but still has only the 30th-most carries in the league and the 25th-most touches among running backs. 

“I think you're seeing the patience in the running game,” Doug Pederson said. “His vision is better, it's improved from Week 1 to Week 13. The more he gets time, the more he gets snaps, the better he'll get.”

Sanders has taken care of the production. Now it’s up to Pederson to take care of getting him more snaps.

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Eagles vs. Giants live: Highlights and analysis from NFL Week 14 game

Eagles vs. Giants live: Highlights and analysis from NFL Week 14 game

9:57 a.m.: Good morning, everyone! 

We have waited a long time for tonight, but the Eagles will host Eli Manning and the Giants tonight at the Linc. Here are five matchups to watch.

If you’re heading to the game, bring your rain gear. 

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