Eagles mailbag: Pederson as a coach; running backs; Spikes

Eagles mailbag: Pederson as a coach; running backs; Spikes

The Eagles are in the middle of Phase 3 of the NFL's offseason program in the CBA. That means they're well into OTAs, with another round set to start Tuesday and run through Friday. 

After that, the team will have a mandatory minicamp June 7-9, followed by a long break before training camp. 

There's plenty to talk about on this Memorial Day Weekend, so let's hop into your questions: 


This question is referring to the yearly USA Today list of the best coaches in the NFL. The list ranked Pederson at No. 30 in a group with the other first-year coaches. Adam Gase is 28, Ben McAdoo 29, Pederson 30 and Dirk Koetter 31.

"We’re lumping all of the first-year coaches together, because no one really knows how they’ll fare as head coaches," Steven Ruiz writes. 

OK, sure. 

Really, this isn't saying Pederson is a bad coach, just an unknown, which is true. I guess for the purpose of the list, he has to go somewhere. Actually, I'm surprised he's higher than Koetter, who has more experience. 

We're not sure how Pederson will be as a coach. Shortly after he was hired, I penned this column, which still holds true. Just because the Pederson hire wasn't very popular, it doesn't mean he won't be a good head coach.

Really, we won't know for a while. 

I've been asked this a few times over the last few weeks, and I understand why. The Eagles are certainly weak at the running back spot, with Ryan Mathews, Darren Sproles, Wendell Smallwood and Kenjon Barner. But I still don't see them adding anyone. 

The team drafted Smallwood and he's the key to this. They should see how he looks in training camp and even in preseason games before trying to pick anyone else up. If he can be a decent contributor this year, they can start to bring him along and groom him to be the starter. If he isn't going to be a contributor, then maybe it's time to look around a little bit. 

Another thing: there's not a ton of talent out there right now. And if anyone is still on the street, there's probably a reason for that. 

Q: Dave, you think Brandon Spikes should get a chance? He has played for Jim Schwartz before. - Joey (@MrJoey98)

Interesting name. Yes, Spikes did play for Jim Schwartz in Buffalo in 2014 and the Eagles already have three players on that team with these Eagles. 

But the team would have to weigh the positives and negatives of bringing him in. Spikes was released by the Patriots last season — he didn't take a snap in 2015 — after he pleaded guilty to leaving the scene of a car crash. 

The Eagles have nearly no depth at linebacker, but would Spikes, now 28, be worth it? Not sure. Probably not, though. 

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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