Rookies and selected veterans, including quarterback Carson Wentz, reported to the NovaCare Complex on Sunday for the start of Training Camp, and head coach Doug Pederson talked about what’s ahead as he looks toward the 2017 season.
“Tonight’s message is very minimal with the rookies and quarterbacks here. It’s about ownership, which I talked about in the spring,” Pederson said. “I want these guys to understand what they’re getting into. Competition is good at every position. Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas do a great job of bringing in guys at every position. That’s what camp is all about. These next few days are about teaching these young players and getting these young players caught up from where they were in the spring.”
The rookies and quarterbacks are on the field starting Monday and extending through Wednesday as they get a refresher course on the X’s and O’s they learned in the spring Organized Team Activities and camps. The entire team reports on Wednesday and hits the field on Thursday for a 10/10/10 practice.
On Saturday, the Eagles hold their first of two free and open-to-the-public practices at Lincoln Financial Field. Practice begins at 10 a.m. and it will be the first time the team practices in full pads.
So, it’s on. The season is here. And with that, Pederson answered some specific questions about the team.
• On if Wentz is on any kind of “pitch count” as far as throws he makes during camp: “We will monitor the throws, but we won’t limit him, per se. With one practice each day, there really is no need. Back in the old days when I played, you could do a pitch count because you were throwing twice a day. Now we don’t do that. We don’t have to limit the number of throws he makes each day.”
• On the reported hand injury suffered by linebacker Jordan Hicks earlier in the month while Hicks was on his honeymoon: “He injured his hand and he needed a minor procedure to fix that. He shouldn’t miss any time. We’re going to keep on top of it and take it day by day with him. We may limit him a little bit, but he should be out there every day.”
• On the status of running back Ryan Mathews, who has not practiced after undergoing surgery to repair a neck injury from late in the 2016 season: “Ryan has been excused while he recovers from his injury. Our main focus with him is just making sure he’s healthy.”
• Defensive tackle Beau Allen (pectoral) and cornerback Sidney Jones (Achilles tendon) were placed on the non-football injury list and won’t practice until they are healthy. Pederson said that left tackle Jason Peters is managed during his camp time to stay fresh and that wide receiver Jordan Matthews could be limited just a bit with the number of reps he takes after missing time in the spring with a knee injury. Otherwise, the Eagles are good to go. “It’s exciting that we’re going to have everybody out there,” Pederson said.
• On the talent level on this team after Pederson said the Eagles of 2017 have more talent than the Green Bay Packers team on which he played that won Super Bowl XXXI: “I feel that this team has talent. I also believe that it takes a good coaching staff, it takes cohesiveness, it takes jelling and talent together to win a Super Bowl, as we did in Green Bay. You don’t just wake up and say, ‘We’ve got talent. We’re going to go win games.’ It doesn’t work that way. I’m excited about Training Camp. I’m excited about this team. But, again, it takes all of us being on the same page. It starts with me and Howie and Mr. (Jeffrey) Lurie and the players and the staff and the entire organization. It takes a lot of things to go right to win a Super Bowl, not just talent.”
• On if making that statement like that puts more pressure on him: “I hope so. I love the pressure. I didn’t get into this business not to have pressure. I’ve got a great coaching staff around me. I’m confident in the things that we can get accomplished.”
• On the release of wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham: “I can appreciate everything he did for us last year and then through OTAs. But at the same time, we feel good about the group we have. What it means for some of our younger wide receivers is that it gives them a chance to step up. We will see what we have there.”
• On having a physical Training Camp and why he feels that is important: “This is a contact sport. I am all about player safety and of course I want our guys to be healthy. And I know that injuries are part of this game. But I also want to condition the players and get them ready to play in games. I think the biggest thing about tackling is fundamentals and conditioning the guys to hit.” The Eagles will have “live” sessions in practices on August 1, August 3, and August 12, said Pederson.
• On the benefits of having the Miami Dolphins come to the NovaCare Complex for joint practices prior to the preseason game on August 24: “It’s our third preseason game and it’s that time in camp when things wear on players and coaches. It’s important to change it up just a bit. I’ve known (Miami head coach) Adam Gase the last several years and he’s doing a great job, so I think it benefits everyone to have them come up for a couple of days to get some good work in and give both teams a change of scenery. It’s exciting. It’s new for the players. It’s fresh for the players. I’m looking forward to it.”