The Eagles opened Organized Team Activities on Tuesday at the NovaCare Complex as Phase 3 of the offseason began. Head coach Doug Pederson addressed the media and touched on a number of subjects.
- Only two veterans, running back Darren Sproles and defensive end Michael Bennett are not present, but Pederson is not concerned. “We’ve communicated with them. We’ve stayed in touch with them and, I sound like a broken record, but it is a voluntary program and (they are) two guys that I don’t have a lot of concern as far as their ability to help us win games. They are veteran players and they know how to get themselves ready to go.”
- Pederson is very well aware that the Super Bowl victory meant a shorter – by a month – offseason and that players are in different stages as they prepare for 2018. So Pederson is cognizant of the need to rest some players on a periodic basis with an eye on making sure they are prepared for Training Camp.
- Defensive end Brandon Graham is present, but he “had his ankle cleaned out,” and is in a cast. He won’t practice in the OTAs but Pederson said, “hopefully we get him back before too long.”
- Cornerback Sidney Jones is “definitely in the mix” to start as the Eagles anticipate an extremely competitive situation in that room. Jones played only in the regular-season finale in his rookie season after suffering a torn Achilles tendon prior to the 2016 draft. Jones was expected to be a high- to mid-level first-round pick in the draft, but the Eagles selected Jones in the second round after the injury.
- On Bennett catching up in the system, Pederson said he is not concerned. “Going forward with him, acclimating himself to the defense, you’ve been around long enough to understand Jim’s (Schwartz) style and what we teach and it fits his strength and that’s roll off the ball as a D-lineman, so it’s just a matter of getting him in here and getting him around his teammates.” Pederson said he expects that Bennett will be present at some point during the OTAs and that his current absence has nothing to do with Bennett’s ongoing legal situation in Houston.
- Much of the emphasis of the three-week long remainder of the offseason is on the younger players, Pederson said. There are a large number of players who were on the practice squad a year ago, along with the newly signed Eagles and the rookie class that, Pederson said, “we need to find out, we need to get some answers on some players and this is the time to do that.”
- Once again, the team has expressed confidence in quarterback Carson Wentz and the progress he has made in his recovery from his knee injury. Wentz has not yet been cleared to participate in a practice setting. Nick Foles and Nate Sudfeld will take the majority of the reps in this session, with Joe Callahan as the third quarterback. “I do want to see Nate, I want to see him a little more extensively with the offense,” Pederson said.
- Pederson confirmed that the team will travel to the White House on June 5 to meet with President Trump. “Excited to be going, to be honored as World Champions. It’s a great honor. We’re still working through some logistics right now, so we don’t have all the logistics of the day, but excited to be going.” Pederson said it is an “individual decision” for the players to attend. Quarterback Carson Wentz said he will attend “if the team decides as a whole most guys want to go or be a part of it, I will be attending with them. I think it’s just a cool way to receive the honor kind of nationally and be recognized. I don’t personally view it as some people do. Everyone has their own opinion on it. I don’t view it as a political thing whatsoever. I don’t really mess with politics very often. I think I will be involved in going with that. The rest of the details will be coming out soon."