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Nick Foles vs. Tom Brady matchup headlines Eagles' 2nd preseason game

Nick Foles vs. Tom Brady matchup headlines Eagles' 2nd preseason game

Will it actually finally happen? Will Tom Brady actually shake Nick Foles’ hand?

That might be the biggest drama going into the Eagles’ second preseason game, Thursday night against the Patriots at Gilette Stadium in Foxboro, Mass.

Brady famously blew off Foles after the Eagles beat the Patriots in Super Bowl LII Feb. 6 in Minneapolis.

Instead of meeting his counterpart at midfield for the customary postgame handshake, Brady slunk back to the Patriots’ locker room, never to be seen again.

Foles has downplayed the lack of a postgame handshake, but it was definitely perceived by many as a lack of class by the four-time Super Bowl MVP toward the 2017 Super Bowl MVP.

“It’ll happen when it happens,” Foles said after practice Tuesday. “We practiced with the Patriots (in 2014) and I got to stand there and talk to Tom quite a bit he’s a great guy. I have all the respect in the world for him.

“I think everyone’s making a big deal about this and it’s not a big deal at all. I’ve already talked to him before, he’s a guy I’ve always looked up to. You’ve got to admire someone who’s probably the greatest ever and still going strong at even at his age.

“He seems to get better and better. I already had a conversation with him before when we practiced. If we have one in the future, we have one and it’ll be cool.”

Foles didn’t play in the preseason opener against the Steelers because of neck spasms, but he’s practiced this week and will start Thursday night in Foxboro.

Head coach Doug Pederson wouldn’t say how long Foles will play or which of the other quarterbacks would play.

“I do expect him to get in the game,” Pederson said. “For how long I don't know, but I do expect him to get a few plays in this game.”

Obviously, Carson Wentz won’t play and presumably Christian Hackenberg isn’t ready, so Pederson will have Foles, Nate Sudfeld and Joe Callahan available.

And even though Foles won’t say it, there is a certain irony that he’s making his 2018 debut against the team he beat six months ago in one of the most exciting and dramatic Super Bowls in history.

“Pretty familiar with the opponent,” Foles deadpanned.

But as far as seeing deep meaning in a Super Bowl rematch? Foles isn’t having any of it.

“We’re in training camp right now, we’re grinding through it, we’re growing as a team, we have new players, guys rotating in and out, so you stay pretty busy throughout the day.

“Now that we’re getting closer to gametime, we’ll be honing in on who they are and what they do, what coverages they like, what they like to do on defense, but not any reminiscing.

“This is a new season, new people, new players. Obviously we wear the same logos as last year but we both have a new identity. This is the time of year we grow together as a team and that’s really all I’m focusing on.”

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Where Doug Pederson's aggressiveness as a play caller comes from

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Where Doug Pederson's aggressiveness as a play caller comes from

We’ve always known Doug Pederson is a naturally aggressive play caller.

Pederson is a laid-back guy off the field but as aggressive as any coach in NFL history on the field.

But where does that come from? How did such a chill dude become such a fearless play caller?

Pederson spoke Tuesday morning about how the way he was raised as a kid in Bellingham, Washington, defined his personality as a coach.

“Growing up with my parents, my dad has some military background, he was in the Air Force, and the way he led our household and raised us as kids … I don’t want to say it was strict but it was a rigid household growing up, so I think I got a little bit of that from my dad,” he said during an appearance with Angelo Cataldi and the 94 WIP Morning Show.

“His aggressive nature in the way he coached us and the way we raised us to stand on our own two feet.

“And listen, I was never really touted as a top athlete, quarterback, whatever, whether I was going into college or coming out of college, so for me there was a little bit of built-up underdog mentality. So for me, that’s where a little bit of this stems from.

“I made up my mind two years ago that really going into this opportunity being a head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles or wherever it might be that you only get one chance and one opportunity to do this so I want to make sure I do it right.”

The Eagles led the NFL with 17 fourth-down conversions last season, and in his two years coaching the Eagles they’ve attempted eight more fourth downs than any other team (53 to the Packers’ 45).

And that doesn’t even include the postseason, where the Eagles were 3-for-3 last year on fourth down, including two of the most celebrated conversions in Super Bowl history.

Including the regular season and postseason, the Eagles’ 20 total fourth-down conversions last year are second-most since the NFL began tracking fourth downs in 1991 (the Jaguars had 22 in 2007).

“It’s calculated,” Pederson said. “It’s not on a whim. It’s not just gut feel. For me, it was trusting my players, trusting my coaches. Out here on this grass, out here on this practice field, putting our players in those situations so when I make the decision during a game there’s no hesitation.

“So when you see Nick Foles come to the sideline and suggest 'Philly Philly,' there’s no hesitation. That’s the play. That’s the one we need. That’s the spark that’s going to help us win this football game, and that’s the collaboration process that we talk about a lot.”

And when a fourth-down attempt fails?

You don’t second-guess yourself. You just put it in the hands of the defense and move on.

“You can’t,” he said. “You don’t. You can’t second guess. You can’t go, ‘Oh man, did I make the right decision?' If you do that, yeah, you’re probably going to be a 50-50 type of team.

“Listen, these decisions are not just fly by the seat of my pants. These are calculated. I listen to some of the analytics, some of the numbers we talk about during the week, the different situation and scenarios that pop up in games.

“These are things that we study and these are things that I study during the week so I can prepare not only myself for the call but I can prepare the team for that situation.”

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Doug Pederson believes 2018 Eagles are deeper than Super Bowl team

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Doug Pederson believes 2018 Eagles are deeper than Super Bowl team

The Eagles won a Super Bowl last season. And then they got better.

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said Tuesday morning he believes this year’s roster is actually deeper than the one that roared to the franchise's first championship in 57 years.

The Eagles suffered some key losses — Patrick Robinson, LeGarrette Blount, Torrey Smith, Trey Burton, Brent Celek and Mychal Kendricks — but they added guys like Michael Bennett, Mike Wallace and Dallas Goedert along with a huge cast of players who were hurt last year and are expected back healthy.

“I think on paper, if you look at the depth at each position, the depth that we have, it’s definitely the deepest roster in my three years here,” Pederson said Tuesday morning during an appearance with Angelo Cataldi and the 94 WIP Morning Show.

“That’s exciting. It’s real exciting. Because in this league, we’ve got to cut our roster down to 53 in a couple weeks, and the hardest thing is you’re going to have to cut good players and you’re probably going to have cut players that are going to end up on rosters somewhere else.

“But on paper? We’re still missing (injured) Timmy Jernigan, we’re still missing Brandon Graham, we’re still missing those guys, but on paper, it looks like a pretty good solid roster.”

Some other notes from Pederson’s 20-minute interview:

He continues to be vague about the return of wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who hasn’t practiced this summer. He said no decision has been made on whether Jeffery will start the season on PUP or the 53-man roster

“He’s doing extremely well with his rehab, No. 1, and he’s doing everything he can to get himself ready and to get himself healthy. Can’t wait for the day we get him back.”

He said the final decision on whether Carson Wentz will start the opener against the Falcons in 23 days is up to his doctors

“This guy’s a competitor. He attacked it on the football field when he played and he’s also attacked his rehab. This is something you don’t see every single day, a guy this determined to make it back to the football field. He’s done extremely well. … He’s so determined to get himself back on the football field that I think a lot of the other injured guys are following suit.”

On moving on from the Super Bowl

“It’s one of those things where it’s great in the offseason, it was great to be patted on the back for what we accomplished for this city, for these fans, but right now, this world championship is for the fans. Let them enjoy it. We’ve got to focus on our 2018 season, get ready to go. Nothings going to be handed to us, we’re going to have to go get everything each and every week and that’s why these guys are out here busting their tail throughout this training camp.”

On his biggest concern three weeks before the season opener against the Falcons

“For me, just the health of the injured guys. Where are they Week 1? That to me is the biggest question going into the start of the season. I’m not concerned about the quarterbacks, we have two great quarterbacks, we’re comfortable there. And receiver, with the addition of Mike Wallace, that brings some depth to what we’re doing. But just the health of the injured guys. That to me is the biggest question going into the start of the season.”

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