The Eagles' players trotted out onto the fields at NovaCare Complex on Thursday afternoon for the first full-team practice. Head coach Doug Pederson expressed his overall enthusiasm in having his players available for the first week of Training Camp. Pederson also briefed the media on the departures of guard Allen Barbre, who was traded to the Denver Broncos for a conditional pick in 2019, and the release of defensive end Marcus Smith. Barbre, a 10-year veteran, spent five seasons with the Eagles and started in 12 games last season.
"First of all, I appreciate everything Allen did for us last year, for this organization, and the last few seasons," Pederson stated. "It's a situation where we feel real comfortable. I feel real comfortable with some of the young guys on our roster and to make the move now worked out that we were able to get something for Allen. To do it now early, it allows him to be established and it allows our younger players to grow a little bit. Dillon Gordon is right there. Big V (Halapoulivaati Vaitai) (has) a chance to work the tackle spot in there a little bit more and (we) just felt it was in the best interest for Allen and for our team moving forward. This was the time to do it."
The team also cut ties with former first-round pick Marcus Smith on Wednesday afternoon. Smith played in all 16 games for the Eagles last season registering 16 tackles and 2.5 sacks.
"Obviously you want all your draft picks to hopefully make your squad but again every case is different," Pederson said. "We're very pleased, very happy with the performance of some of our younger players and it's a great opportunity for Marcus now to get into camp and get picked up and continue his career."
There were smiles all around at the first full-team practice of Training Camp. Check out the photos...
Here's what else Pederson shared with the media.
On having the entire team together for Day 1: "Yes, it was great. I started this morning obviously with our little physical conditioning test. Guys really knocked it out and did a great job. Very spirited out here today and it's something that I kept talking to the team about throughout OTAs and this day is finally here and we're all excited."
On whether he planned on expanding the offense this season: "No, we took what we worked and we did well last year. That was part of our scheme evaluation as coaches this offseason and take what we did best and make it better and let our guys get one more rep at it. I think that's the way you get better as an offense and a defense is just to keep repping our stuff over and over and that's what we've done."
On the versatility of players: "Having a year under our belt, knowing what our guys can do and them knowing our system, it does give us some position versatility with some of our players. I guess that's the fun thing about Year 2 with our guys is being able to move them around in different spots and seeing what they can do. Especially some of our runners who can be wide receivers, Byron Marshall, who was out here today working as a receiver, Donnel Pumphrey, and (Darren) Sproles are out there. So it's a chance to see our versatility at that position as receivers."
On what he's seen from WR Greg Ward: "Greg's been one of the young players that's kind of right now caught our attention. He's a smart kid, number one. He's a former quarterback, and he knows what he's doing. Just excited these next couple of days to start getting the pads on too just to see where he is from a physical standpoint as well and then as we increase the volume of information and guys get tired and things like that, see where he is mentally. But right now, I'm pleased with his performance and what he's done."
On WR Alshon Jeffery's catch radius helping QB Carson Wentz: "That's a good comfort for a quarterback to have you don't necessarily have to be pinpoint accurate down the field when you have guys that can leap at high-point balls and Alshon can do that. He did a great job today with the one (catch). We talk about it all the time, you just have to read the technique of the corner too. If you have a chance to go throw it down the field where our guy can go get it, we do. A guy like Alshon really, throw it right on top of his head and he can go get it and then we have to continue working that back shoulder throw. So really there are three types of throws that we can work that just happened to be one of those, throw it on top of his head and allow him to make the play."
On if there are any limitations on WR Jordan Mathews: "None. He had a great practice, he was full-go. Within the injury, we're going to monitor it, but it's full-go with him and so we'll go forward with that."
On feeling more comfortable in Year 2 with his imprint on the defense: "Obviously I trust (Jim) Schwartz and Dave Fipp. Obviously they do a terrific job. Jim's called a ton of defenses in the National Football League and my role this year will expand from the standpoint of just kind of diving in a little bit more to the understanding of how we're attacking offenses, gameplan-specific stuff on defense and on special teams."
On whether to have G Isaac Seumalo play exclusively at left guard: "We'll rotate him in there at center. I think it's important again that he's another one (with) position versatility, guard, center. So we'll rotate him in there."
On learning what Carson Wentz likes in the offense: "That's the reason for the 16 games last year for him. I think that's the beauty of it for both of us is to go back and I can get that feedback from Carson and understand what he does like, what he doesn't like, and help our offense get better. I think that's the thing as coaches, this is the time to listen and expand, whether it be technique or a route that our players really like and listening to our guys. Now is the time in camp to fine-tune that and maybe experiment with some of that stuff and see if it's something we can continue on into the season."
On Carson Wentz's work level: "It is a little hard though in the offseason when they can't be in our building studying that film but with technology, iPads, and things of that nature. Even through OTAs he's in here he's constantly learning, studying, wants to get better. Can't ask for anything more. He's definitely putting in the work and putting in the time and it's paying off even with the guys he's working with, they're responding to his work ethic as well."
On how the team finished last season: "I look back on the end of the season, our guys played, they battled until the end. It gave me the confidence that I knew going forward that they believed in me, they believed what I was talking about. Players can see through that. I'm open. I'm honest. I'm upfront with the guys and you speak from your heart sometimes and they take it to heart and that's what they did at the end of the season. It's great because now we can look back and learn from those experiences and going forward we can hopefully finish those games and come out on top in most of those defeats."