DOUG PEDERSON**: I apologize for my voice. I have been yelling a little bit these past few days. Let me just update you, real quick, on who is out for this game as we talk to [Eagles Head Athletic Trainer] Chris Peduzzi. So on defense: [DE] Marcus Smith, [DT] Mike Martin, [LB] Mychal Kendricks, [S] Malcolm Jenkins and [CB] JaCorey Shepherd. They will be out on defense. On offense: [RB] Wendell Smallwood, [WR] Hunter Sharp, [WR] Jordan Matthews, [WR] Marcus Johnson and [T] Jason Peters.
Now, Jason Peters will actually work out with the team during pregame warm-ups tomorrow night – or Thursday night, rather – and he will be on the sideline in uniform, [but] he won't play. But he's going to go through the drills and we want to see where he is at so he can be ready for next week. So, he will be in uniform on the sideline. With that, I will open it up.
On Smallwood, you already mentioned that you know what he is. But how much has this time that he's missed – this hitting period – how much does that hurt him in not being ready to play the first game?
DOUG PEDERSON: Well, I think just being used to the contact will – I don't want to say set him back – but getting banged around as a running back is obviously the biggest part of their game; getting that physicalness and the pass protection. We will do enough of the thud drills in practice to hopefully get him caught up where he needs to be when he eventually returns.
Who is starting at left tackle in place of Peters? At wide receiver in place of Matthews? At safety in place of Jenkins?
DOUG PEDERSON: So, [at] left tackle, Matt Tobin will take his place. And you got Nelson [WR Nelson Agholor] at the Z spot and [WR] Chris Givens will take over at the X spot. You've also got [WRs] Rueben Randle and Josh Huff in that mix as well for the first part of the game. [For] Malcolm, Rodney is going to play – [S] Rodney McLeod. Then you've got [S] Chris Maragos, [who] will be [with S] Jaylen Watkins on a rotating basis in the first game.
Doug, just to follow up on the backing off on contact at practice, were you asked by the Players Association, or did any players complain about too much contact?
DOUG PEDERSON: Not at all. In fact, I actually had great feedback really from the players and coaches. But honestly, part of my job is to stay in tune with those guys; to watch your team practice. And it was a tough six days. Now, we only took the pads off one time. And even if we aren't going to the ground, if you watched 9-on-7, and you watched some of the drills we did, they're hitting [and] they're still banging. We just aren't going all the way to the ground.
So, it's my job to make sure that we are getting just enough. And at the same time, if I feel the need to back down, I'll back down. And that's where it's at.
Doug, just to verify, Tuesday's practice was always meant to be thud and not tackle, correct?
DOUG PEDERSON: Correct.
So you weren't changing the schedule based off injuries?
DOUG PEDERSON: No.
You didn't mention S Ed Reynolds. So what's going on there?
DOUG PEDERSON: Ed is actually up all four quarters in this football game.
Have you decided how you are going to call the plays with offensive coordinator Frank Reich? Is it going to be you directing to the quarterbacks?
DOUG PEDERSON: Yeah, Frank and I spoke last night. We visited again, and I'm obviously going to call the plays [and] call the game. I'm going to call directly to the quarterbacks with Frank being on the sideline with me.
Is LB Najee Goode in for Mychal Kendricks?
DOUG PEDERSON: Yes, Najee will be starting for Mychal Kendricks.
Obviously Kendricks has had a history of lingering injuries – knees, hamstring, and that kind of thing. Does that concern you at all that before the first preseason game he already has one?
DOUG PEDERSON: Not really, because [they're] very, very mild. [He'll] obviously be out this game, but [we] should expect him back on Saturday for practice.
Doug, in all that there is to manage in a game, why do you feel it is important to call the plays yourself?
DOUG PEDERSON: One, offensively from a speed standpoint of calling the plays directly to the quarterback from myself. That is probably the biggest issue. And then it just keeps you so in tune to the game. You're focused not only offensively, but when the defense is back out there you are looking at how your players are playing. You're kind of that quarterback on the sideline. Being in that position for so many years has led me to be in this position on game day.
Will you script those plays to open the first half and then will you script plays in the second half for QB Carson Wentz?
DOUG PEDERSON: I will. I'll put together openers for all of the quarterbacks for this football game and go that way.
As far as managing the game, do you do anything differently in the preseason in order to see your team in certain situations? Whether it's going for it on fourth down or short-yardage decisions and things like that?
DOUG PEDERSON: You're probably a little more aggressive in the preseason in certain situations. If I feel like -- If we're in the middle of a drive and it's fourth-and-1 and I feel like our offensive line is doing well and I want to go for it, we'll go for it in those situations. Plus, it helps your football team once you get to the regular season, to know just the importance of those opportunities. Any time that you can put your team in that – again, those are situations that you sort of iron out in training camp before you get to the regular season, so you can have a really good idea of what you can and can't handle.
What's the rotation at kicker on Thursday night?
DOUG PEDERSON: They are both [Caleb Sturgis and Cody Parkey] going to kick. There isn't really one guy that is going to get any more kicks than the other. They are both going to kick.
Does Wentz seem overwhelmed at all?
DOUG PEDERSON: Not at all. He's very comfortable with where he is at. He is getting better every day. I mentioned that the other day. I think Carson is – I've seen a lot of young quarterbacks that come in and struggle mentally with the terminology and the overall volume of offense that we have in at this time, but I haven't seen that from him at all. We haven't had any communication breakdowns in the huddle with him. So, [I'm] very pleased with where he is at mentally and now it is just a matter of continuing to detail his work and fine tune some of the mechanics.
What will you mostly be looking at from him in the second half of Thursday night's game?
DOUG PEDERSON: Well, the biggest thing is just his decision making. The timing of throws, the accuracy of throws, how well he in turn manages the offense and how well they move. Basically, allowing him to just have fun and cut it loose. He's such a mobile guy, that when he can scramble and get on the perimeter, he has the ability to make some tremendous throws and accurate throws out of the pocket. I'm kind of excited to watch him do those types of things in a live setting.
Yesterday, you were asked about keeping Lane Johnson at right tackle while Peters has been out. As a follow up to that, do you see the need at all during training camp to try Johnson over at left tackle just in case something happens to Peters during the season?
DOUG PEDERSON: I mean, yeah, I think there would be a time to do that. Like everything else, this would be the time to get him some work over there. So, that's something that Coach Stout [Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland] and I will continue to talk about. I think [we would] definitely leave it open to be able to give him a few reps or at least a day over at the left side.
So the reason for not doing it now is that you just want Johnson to get comfortable on the right side --
DOUG PEDERSON: Just stay comfortable and the fact that [G/T] Matt Tobin is doing a good job at left tackle. So, right now there is no need coming into this first game to make that adjustment going forward.
As a follow up on Jordan Matthews, is that injury more significant than you thought last Friday?
DOUG PEDERSON: More significant? No. Actually, it was less significant. It looked bad on tape once I watched it on film. It looked worse than what I initially thought out here on the field. So, it's definitely one now that is day-to-day. There is no structural damage in there, which is definitely pleasing because on tape it looked like it could have been. But yeah, I'm just looking forward to when he does return.
It's strained. Is it a bone bruise?
DOUG PEDERSON: It's strained – it's more of a bone bruise, yeah.
So with this timetable, is there a good chance that he won't see any preseason action? Will it change and would you like that entire first-team offense to play at least one or two series together in the preseason?
DOUG PEDERSON: Yeah, I'm not going to try to rush him back because I know that he has shown so much out here already and with what he has done in the spring. But at the same time, if I could get them all healthy for that third preseason game, I mean that's the time that you play your starters for a little bit more than a quarter; you play them into the third. So, that would be the timeframe – if you were putting one on [Matthews] – to hopefully get back for that football game so that all the guys are healthy at that time.
Is rookie CB Jalen Mills ahead of second-year CB Eric Rowe at this point?
DOUG PEDERSON: At this time he is, yes.
What has Mills shown to this point to be a second-team player?
DOUG PEDERSON: I just think every day he comes to work. The aggressiveness in his style of play, he's got a lot of PBUs [pass breakups] and he's got hands on the ball. He's willing and eager to want to be in that position. So, everything that I have seen from Jalen is definitely thumbs up. I just look forward to these games now with him.
Obviously Wentz has been wearing a red QB jersey in training camp. You mention his ability to run, so do you now have to kind of remind him to protect himself when he gets into live game action?
DOUG PEDERSON: Yeah, it was the first thing when he came here back in April. I said, 'Hey, we're at a different level now and you've got to make sure that you protect yourself.' He understands that, and at the same time – Again, it's a fine line, but also you've got to know that your longevity in this league is to protect yourself and to be here week-in and week-out. We'll continue to talk and manage him that way.
Although it's only the preseason, how excited are you for this game as a head coach?
DOUG PEDERSON: I'm excited. I'm really looking forward to getting over there for the first one in the Linc [Lincoln Financial Field] and having the fans there; then the opportunity to play against another opponent and just watch our guys with how they have competed for the first two weeks of camp and watch them go against another team. Obviously, you want to come away with no injuries, but at the same time, we are going to stay aggressive. I'm thrilled; I am looking forward to it and just can't wait for Thursday.
For you personally, you said that the night before training camp opened you couldn't really sleep.
DOUG PEDERSON: I'm getting that way right now. Just kind of keyed up for it and just looking forward [to it]. There are a lot of things that have to go on between now and then with the planning and scheduling. Just sort of the detailing, even with the players, kind of just managing them. But at the same time, I know personally, it might be a restless night.