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5 Things: The Great Debate


The Eagles have a fast 10-10-10 practice (friendly warning, the quarterbacks will throw interceptions on purpose today) on Saturday morning after three days of physical, intense workouts. Offensive coordinator Frank Reich will meet the media following practice at around 11 AM. We will have that for you here online or on our app.

This is your daily public service announcement that the Eagles' first two preseason games will be broadcast on Comcast SportsNet and Cozi TV due to the Olympics. Here's where the games can be found in your area. The preseason opener is this upcoming Thursday, August 11 at 7 PM when the Eagles host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Until then, here are the 5 Things to Know for Saturday, August 6 ...

1. Pederson Defends Physical Practices

Zach Ertz was not happy with a low hit that he took from rookie safety Blake Countess, one that forced the tight end to be evaluated for a head injury.

"Guys got to be pros. These rookies are coming in. They don't know what the atmosphere is like, the respect that's given in practice," Ertz said after being cleared of a potential concussion.

It's the second time this week that a defensive back delivered a shot around Ertz's knees as veteran Rodney McLeod also went low on the fourth-year pass-catcher. Wide receiver Jordan Matthews also took a hit to the knees, this time from another rookie in cornerback Jalen Mills. Matthews stayed down on the ground before walking off the field on his own. Matthews suffered a left knee sprain that will keep him sidelined for a few days, but fortunately nothing serious.

Head coach Doug Pederson wanted a tough Training Camp from both a mental and physical standpoint. And he's delivered. The potential for injury may be greater, although there have been plenty of serious non-contact injuries over the years. Pederson is not second-guessing his decision.

"Football is a contact sport. This is going to happen. It's going to happen," Pederson said. "Whether it happens today or it happens Thursday night, it's part of the game. I'm a big believer (that) you never shy away from contact. You've got to have contact. It's a contact sport."

2. "Fear Nothing, Attack Everything"

The message from Doug Pederson to his team behind closed doors has been this: "Fear nothing, attack everything."

"You've got to be fearless. That's what this game takes, so that's what we do," offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. "It's about a mindset. I think it's developing a culture of what the expectations are, and there is a practicality to it. This is a physical sport and you have to be physical all the time. You can't just turn it on and turn it off. You've got to find different ways to create that physicality."

The players have bought in and embraced the new mentality.

"This is a physical game and having a camp like this gets you ready for the regular season pretty fast," veteran tight end Brent Celek said. "I think another thing is that this kind of camp gives you confidence for the preseason games. If you're never going 'live' (tackling), there's kind of that element like, 'Wow, you know this is going to be the first time in a long time that I'm getting back into it and that I'm going to be tackled.' It's good from a mental standpoint that we've already been in these situations.

"Doug knows when to be physical with us and he knows when to back off. It's very similar to what Andy ran and those camps worked very well for us."

3. Brooks Returns To Strengthen O-Line

The Eagles signed free agent guard Brandon Brooks to bolster a position that was way too inconsistent last year between Pro Bowl center Jason Kelce and cornerstone tackle Lane Johnson.

The team had to wait for Brooks to make his Training Camp debut until Friday as he suffered a hamstring injury. Brooks took part in individual drills and group installation periods, but was held out of team drills. Still, Brooks is taking a positive step toward being an impact player for this team in 2016.

"The biggest thing is when you're sitting in there watching guys out here and you're trying to ride the bike and run on the treadmill or something, wishing you were out there," Brooks said.


4. Celek: A Testament To Sports Science

Tight end Brent Celek is the longest-tenured offensive player for the Eagles. His talent and work ethic allowed him to make the team despite being a fifth-round pick who wasn't invited to the Scouting Combine in 2007. Celek's team-first mentality helped carve out a role as one of the best all-around tight ends in the league when his offensive numbers started to dip. His open mind embraced the Performance Sports Science program when his body called out help in 2013.

"I needed something like that. My body was starting to break down. My lower back, my hips, everything was hurting and I didn't have any real solution," Celek recalled.

The Performance Sports Science team that includes director of high performance Shaun Huls and head athletic trainer Chris Peduzzi introduced Celek to a set of exercises that helped his posture. The results have been impressive.

"When you look at what a player undergoes, the load that they have from practice and training and the psychological load as far as memorizing the playbook – stress is stress," Huls said. "That's why people who have mental stress can experience physical pain as a side effect. The physical load of practice, strength training and the psychological load of memorizing the playbook and making split-second decisions under stress all carry a cost. Quantifying that stress helps to identify how much rest, sleep and fueling strategies can be most effectively used to repeat their efforts on subsequent practices. It's really balancing the energy output versus energy input."

5. Burton Filling Important Roles On And Off Field

Doug Pederson was asked for some under-the-radar players who are shining in Training Camp. The first player he mentioned was tight end Trey Burton.

"He's not an undrafted free agent (this year), but Trey Burton has had a nice camp so far," Pederson said.

Burton was a rookie free agent in 2014 who made the Eagles as a special teams weapon. In his first two NFL seasons, Burton has blocked a punt, scored a touchdown on a blocked punt return. Last year, he led the team with 19 special teams tackles.

Burton also saw some time on offense, garnering a 43-yard catch-and-run in the Thanksgiving loss to Detroit. Burton has been a consistent playmaker during camp. Off the field, Burton is even prouder of a much bigger role. That of being a father to his two children, Ariella and Jaxon.

"I love my kids to death. I grew up without a father, so I kind of know how important the role of being a father is in my children's lives," he said.

Burton goes into more detail on this week's Eagles Insider podcast.

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