Doug Pederson listens to his players. And his players aren't shy about expressing themselves. So as the Eagles unpacked after three consecutive road trips to turn their attention to Monday night's game against Oakland, the mutual understanding was that it was time to back off the grind just a little bit this week.
That's what Pederson has done. There are still a couple of days to go before the prime-time game that could end with the Eagles clinching the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs, but already Pederson has seen the benefit of shortening the workload. Some of the players who were held out of practice earlier in the week – specifically cornerback Jalen Mills (ankle) and defensive end Derek Barnett (groin) – returned to practice on Saturday with high hopes to play against the Raiders.
For the official injury report, released on Saturday afternoon, offfensive guard Stefen Wisniewski, who missed last week's game at the Giants, was listed as questionable with a lingering ankle injury. If he can't go, it's likely that Chance Warmack would again start at left guard, as he did against New York. Wisniewski was limited in practice on Saturday. Mills and linebacker Mychal Kendricks are also listed as questionable, although both of them had full participation in practice on Saturday.
For a team that has had a slew of season-ending injuries all year, the injury report is a tame one for a Week 16 game. The two-way dialogue between the locker room and the coaching staff has been helpful.
"I just make sure I communicate with the players and see how they feel, see where they're at," Pederson said on Saturday at the NovaCare Complex in his final press conference of the week prior to Monday's game, "and then just monitor some of the GPS stuff that we're doing (with sports science), tracking data that's out there that we have and then just overall injuries, too. The health of the football team overall. Listening to players and things of that nature.
"With that extra day this week, giving them that extra rest, staying off their feet, more up-tempo walkthrough practices this week. It's been good. Guys are feeling good. We've just got to keep guys fresh and healthy for Monday night."
Pederson said the goal for Monday night is to "win the game. Play our best players and win," regardless of the result of tonight's Minnesota-Green Bay contest (a Packers win clinches the No. 1 seed for the Eagles in the NFC playoffs). He's rearranging the schedule a bit over the next few days so that the coaching staff and the players can spend time with their families on Christmas Eve and the following morning.