We learned two things on Tuesday night about the NFL’s restrictions for training camps this summer:
One is that NFL teams will reportedly be required to stay at their own facilities this summer. That won’t be a big deal for the Eagles who haven’t held training camp at Lehigh University since 2012.
But the other probably will affect them.
Based on a memo sent by commissioner Roger Goodell to all 32 teams on Tuesday night, joint practices will be prohibited this year.
While this decree makes sense when we’re talking about limiting exposure during the COVID-19 age, it could throw a wrinkle in the Eagles’ summer plans. While we don’t know for sure that the Birds were going to hold joint practices, we do know Doug Pederson is quite fond of them.
The Eagles practiced with the Dolphins in 2017 and the Ravens in 2019. The only reason they didn’t have joint practices in 2018 was because the schedule didn’t work out.
And this year, an obvious joint practice opponent would have been the Patriots, who come to Philly for Week 3 of the preseason. The Patriots held joint practices from 2012-17 and held joint practices with two teams last summer. They practiced with the Eagles in 2013.
The Patriots open their 2020 preseason schedule with the Lions and head coach Matt Patricia, their former defensive coordinator. They also held joint practices with the Lions last year too, so perhaps the Patriots would have practiced with them. But they could have held double joint practices again this year if allowed.
The Eagles also open their preseason against Frank Reich’s Colts and then go to Miami for Week 2. They obviously have a history with Reich and they held joint practices with the Dolphins a few years ago. So there were plenty of options this summer.
But you can forget all that.
So what will change now that we know the Eagles can’t hold joint practices?
Well, they’re probably going to have to play a little harder during the preseason, especially in the third preseason game. Historically, that third preseason game has been the dress rehearsal game. But last year, Pederson got a lot of that work in during the joint practices with the Ravens.
Pederson said coaches could actually evaluate better in joint practices than they could during preseason games.
"Yeah, because in practice sometimes you don't get all the situations in a game that you'd like to see your players in," Pederson said last summer. "So practices, I can set practices up that way. I can set them up hard. I can set them up where we're in pads, or going live, whatever it might be that we can really get a true evaluation of a player.
"The only real change from a game to a practice is in a game you don't get to do it over. At least in a practice setting, if we make a mistake, we can line up and do it again, and so we can correct that mistake right away. In preseason games, we can't do that. We get a little bit better evaluation in practice in that case."
Another element the Eagles will miss from joint practices is the break in monotony. It gets old facing your teammates in practice for five to six weeks and going against another team can provide a boost.
For now, the Eagles are fully planning to begin their training camp at the NovaCare Complex in late July. They have held their entire offseason program virtually. Pederson has previously said the Eagles will need a full training camp to prepare for an on-time start to the 2020 season.
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