A couple days after Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said 23-year-old cornerback Sidney Jones needed to “break through that threshold” as he deals with a lingering hamstring injury, Pederson has been happy with what he’s seen this week at practice.
Pederson thinks Jones heard the message.
“I do,” Pederson said on Friday. “What he’s done this week, he’s really pushed himself in practice, he’s challenged himself. I’ve seen that with him. That’s the part that I’m probably most proud of with him.”
Jones has practiced all week and is expected to play on Sunday; Pederson said he thinks they’ll be able to give the cornerback his normal workload in the game. Based on the injury situation with the team, that means Jones will likely start in Minnesota.
Even aside from the Achilles injury that basically made his rookie season a redshirt year, Jones has struggled to stay healthy during his short career in the NFL. Hamstring injuries have plagued his last two seasons. Most recently, he suffered a hamstring injury in the Packers game and left after just 10 snaps. While he was active last week, he didn’t play.
On Friday, Pederson gave a more in-depth answer to clarify what he meant by saying that Jones needed to “break through that threshold” with the injury:
I think what happens is, think of a player or think of a time when you’ve been ill or sick and you still have to go to work and you still have to show up. You almost have to trick your body sometimes that you’re OK. With injury, it’s a little the same way.
“I think about dealing with my surgery back in March. There were times when you’re OK and you’ve gotta walk. You’ve gotta be able to get on your toes, you gotta be able to run. And until you do that and gain confidence, you’re probably going to hold yourself back. In any athlete, not just Sidney, that is the case. We have to get him out on the practice field, we have to push him as coaches. Not risk further injury; we’re not gonna do that. But get them to feel comfortable and confident that everything is OK.
“And once they push past that barrier, then we’re good and then they learn to play that way, they learn to practice that way. That’s why guys like Darren Sproles, Jason Peters, the (Jason) Kelces, you look at Fletcher Cox, Malcolm Jenkins, guys that have played for a long time, they’ve been able to do that. And you learn that at an early age, early in your career. It just gives you confidence moving forward. You’re kind of pushing that threshold, you’re busting through that barrier and all things are good.
This is not the first time Pederson has said something publicly like this about Jones. He mentioned it last year, too. The head coach clearly seems to be indicating that Jones needs to be a tad tougher as he fights through injury. We’re in Week 6 of the NFL season — no one is feeling 100 percent.
Jones was once thought to be a first-round talent when he was drafted in 2017, but the Eagles took a chance when they took him in the second round as he was recovering from an Achilles tear. The thought at the time was that they were getting a bargain at pick No. 43. So far, that draft pick clearly hasn’t paid off.
The most frustrating thing about Jones is that he flashed that potential this summer at training camp. He finally looked like the talent the Eagles thought they were drafting. And now he can’t seem to get over these hamstring injuries.
But if Pederson is right and Jones can “break through that threshold,” he might still be able to help the Eagles this season and beyond. If not … his career could end up being a massive disappointment.
Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.