Eagles mailbag: Depth at DT and LB, Nick Foles

Eagles mailbag: Depth at DT and LB, Nick Foles

We started this two-part mailbag Thursday, when I fielded questions about the biggest concern, roster battles and a kicker fight (see story)

Today, a few more of your questions. 

Let's jump in: 

Not a ton of options here. This is a problem area for the Eagles. There's not a ton of depth. The starters seem decent enough: Jordan Hicks, Mychal Kendricks, Nigel Bradham. But Hicks and Kendricks have noted injury histories and I'm not sold on Bradham. 

The best bets for backups right now are Najee Goode, rookie Joe Walker, and perhaps Deontae Skinner. There's also a chance one undrafted rookie — Quentin Gause or Myke Tavarress — could make the team because of the lack of depth. 

Goode is a pretty good backup and special teams player, but I'm not sure he could fill the void if a starter was out for a considerable amount of time. And Walker has some promise — at least as a backup — but he's learning a new defense that's much different from the scheme he played at Oregon. 

Linebacker and defensive tackle are two real areas of depth weakness on this roster. I wouldn't be shocked to see the Eagles add someone else. 

As I was saying, the depth at defensive tackle isn't great. In my first 53-man roster projection, I left off Mike Martin, which proved to be foolish. While Fletcher Cox was gone this spring, Martin took his spot with the first team, which tells me what the Eagles think about him. At this point, it would be pretty surprising if he didn't make the team. 

Allen … I'm not so sure. I just don't see him or Taylor Hart being good fits for Jim Schwartz's 4-3 system. I think one of the three undrafted rookies — Destiny Vaeao, Aziz Shittu or Connor Wujciak — have a shot to make the squad. 


The Eagles have enough bodies at quarterback now with Sam Bradford, Chase Daniel and Carson Wentz. Adding a fourth — especially Nick Foles — wouldn't make sense. 

Thinking about Foles' career is pretty crazy. He went from his magical 2013 season, making the Pro Bowl, to being benched for Case Keenum in 2015. Yikes. 

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 J.J. 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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Doug Pederson says Carson Wentz is fine, gives updates on injured Eagles

Doug Pederson says Carson Wentz is fine, gives updates on injured Eagles

Even though the Eagles canceled practice today and will instead have a walkthrough, they will still be required by league rules to put out an estimated injury report later in the day. 

For now, we have a few injury updates from head coach Doug Pederson. 

After practice was canceled and Carson Wentz’s media availability was pushed to later in the day, conspiracy theories swirled. After all, Wentz took quite a beating in Sunday night’s loss and was probably pretty sore the next morning. 

We’ll find out for sure from the injury report later, but Pederson on Wednesday morning was asked if Wentz would have practiced today had the Eagles held practice. 

“Carson?” Pederson responded bewildered. “Yeah.”

He’s fine?  

“Yeah,” Pederson responded. “Yeah, he’s fine.” 

But Pederson did have updates on some other Eagles who are injured: 

Tim Jernigan (foot): Jernigan broke his left foot on Sunday night, so this injury is the most significant from the Blue Tent Game. Pederson said, “Tim is going to be out a little bit longer” than some of their other injured Eagles. 

DeSean Jackson (groin), Alshon Jeffery (calf), Dallas Goedert (calf), Corey Clement (shoulder): Jackson, Jeffery and Goedert were out early in Sunday’s game. Clement got hurt in the second half. 

“The other guys are more day-to-day,” Pederson said. “They’re doing well and we’ll have an update later in the week. Right now, that’s why we’re doing this type of a practice today, so we can get them out there.” 

Pederson said, as far as he knew, Goedert’s injury happened in warmups and Jeffery and Jackson were hurt in the first quarter. It’s worth noting, Goedert had the same calf injury during training camp. Tight end Alex Ellis was called up from the practice squad Tuesday. 

There have been some reports that Jackson and Jeffery could miss the next two games, but Pederson didn’t confirm those reports on Wednesday morning. 

“Both those guys are getting treatment, they’re rehabbing, they’re day-to-day,” he said. “We’ll see where they are at the end of the week, but not committing to that.”

The Eagles host the Lions on Sunday afternoon, but then play in Green Bay just four days later on Thursday Night Football, so even though Pederson wouldn’t confirm those reports, they pass the smell test. 

If the Eagles don’t have Jeffery or Jackson, they’re down to three healthy receivers: Nelson Agholor, JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Mack Hollins. They also have Greg Ward and Marcus Green on the practice squad, so they can wait until later in the week to call one of them up.

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