Philadelphia Eagles News

Quotes: Head Coach Doug Pederson

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DOUG PEDERSON: I want to just update you a little bit: You won't see [DT] Fletcher Cox at practice today – I've excused him. His high school football coach passed away back in Mississippi that he was very close to, so I've excused him these next couple of days to go and be a part of that. So, you won't see Fletcher at practice.

Other than that, go ahead.

Will LB Mychal Kendricks be back at practice today?

DOUG PEDERSON: Mychal Kendricks should practice today and get some reps, yes.

Will S Jalen Mills be back at practice today?

DOUG PEDERSON: Jalen should be out there today as well, yes.

Among the receivers jockeying for roster spots, has anyone stood out in terms of their play on special teams?

DOUG PEDERSON: Speaking offensively, first, Paul Turner has really kind of caught our eye here the last couple of weeks and is doing a nice job there. And then these young guys getting reps late in the game, Paul is one that's stepping up; Cayleb Jones is stepping up; Xavier Rush is doing a good job; David Watford. There are some guys – some young guys – that are vying for not only roster spots, but special teams. They're doing a good job. But, as you know, this week will be a little bit more limited for them going forward.

How about the veterans, in that respect? Are any of those guys standing out so far?

DOUG PEDERSON: Well, [RB] Kenjon [Barner] has done a great job the last two weeks actually returning punts. [He] has done an outstanding job. And it goes without saying Chris Maragos is a top special teams performer and Bryan Braman, and those guys are doing an outstanding job. We're looking at a lot of players right now, but when we get to the regular season, I expect those two to be the core leaders.

I meant more in terms of the receivers – the veteran receivers.

DOUG PEDERSON: The top guys, top performers aren't getting many reps right now at that position. So, it's a little bit hard. I know once we get to the regular season and we trim the roster down to the 53 [-man roster] those guys will have a bigger impact, but right now it's just a matter of just kind of getting a rep here or there.

What's the latest with LB Joe Walker, and what's the plan at the back-up linebacker spot?

DOUG PEDERSON: Well, right now with Joe Walker, as you know, he does have the ACL [anterior cruciate ligament injury], and he's going to be missed for the season. [At the] linebacker spot, especially in the middle, right now Don Cherry is on the roster and he gets to fill that spot, and that's where we're at.

Do you feel you need a veteran there or someone with a little more experience?

DOUG PEDERSON: I think we're going to continue to look at that. Obviously, that's been a spot that we've looked at all offseason and also in training camp. I know [Eagles executive vice president of football operations] Howie [Roseman] and his team are out there looking, and with the loss now to Joe, obviously something is going to have to be done.

When bringing in players like WR Dorial Green-Beckham and some of the other risks that you took in the draft, do you feel like you have to create your culture first before you can bring those guys into the fold? Or do you feel like the culture here is good enough that those guys will be accepted and mentored and brought along?

DOUG PEDERSON: One thing with that is that I have to have trust in myself and in my staff that the culture is going to be how I want it to be done. Then the veteran leadership on the football team, they have to embrace it. I feel strong about the culture of the football team and the direction in which they are going.

I think with someone like Green-Beckham coming in here: One, it's a second chance for him to kind of prove himself. We know the type of athlete that he is and he's someone that could hopefully help us down the road. 

But I feel comfortable with the atmosphere of the football team, the culture of the football team, the leadership of the football team and then ultimately the coaching staff is where it lies.

You have talked before about some of the things you have done similarly to what former Eagles and current Kansas City Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid has done, such as a training camp schedule and things like that. Would you agree that this approach to taking chances on guys that have had character issues is a bit different from what Reid did? When Reid first started, it seemed like he didn't take those chances because he wanted to first establish his own culture.

DOUG PEDERSON: Well I was a player way back then [in Reid's first year as head coach of the Eagles]. As a player, I know that first year a lot of players were gone after that first year and he was trying to bring in the players that he wanted. A lot of these players on this football team [Reid] drafted and so I lean on those guys because they know the culture and they know what to expect going forward.

With a player like CB Aaron Grymes, if he were to miss the rest of the preseason with the shoulder injury, do you feel like you've had enough evaluation on him at this point?

DOUG PEDERSON: Yeah, he has played well in the preseason. He was playing great the other night and it's unfortunate, his injury. But he was in that competition and there is a lot of good competition at that corner spot. It is unfortunate, but he has put himself in a nice little spot and now we can evaluate the other young players there: [CB] C.J. Smith for instance. We can take a look at him and just see where he is at and make decisions going forward. But Aaron has definitely done [well] not only defensively, but on special teams as well, in that regard.

How is WR Jordan Matthews coming along and is there a chance that he'll be able to play this week?

DOUG PEDERSON: Yeah, he is day-to-day. He is still being evaluated. We would love to be able to hopefully get him out here this week; we've just got to see, but I'm not going to rush him and I'm not going to push him to get back at it. I want to make sure that he is 100 percent before he hits the field.

Do you still expect him to be ready by the start of the regular season?

DOUG PEDERSON: I do expect him to be ready. He is on track. His recovery and rehab are going well and I do expect him opening day.

What kind of freedom and responsibilities are you giving QB Sam Bradford pre-snap?

DOUG PEDERSON: Well in practice we give him – it's not every play, but there are certain plays that we give him the opportunity to change or to change a route or to change a protection. Whatever he feels is necessary at the time. In games, we try not to show a bunch of things on film that way to our opponents. We give our quarterbacks – all the quarterbacks really – the freedom to make adjustments where necessary. It's stuff that we coach up out here in practice and stuff that we have done in the past. Give them tools to give us the best chance on any play.

What about G Isaac Seumalo? Are you happy enough with his play to keep him in a starting role in the preseason game Saturday night?

DOUG PEDERSON: Yeah, I said last week, Isaac has really put himself in a good position to help us offensively and I felt like he's getting better with every snap and with every rep. [He] wasn't perfect, by no means, but at the same time he has done an outstanding job along with [G/T Allen Barbre]. Allen I thought had a great game at right tackle, as well. He really settled into the role and we'll try to keep that same combination next week.

Is QB Carson Wentz still progressing with his injury?

DOUG PEDERSON: Yeah, [it's] day to day. We are going to test him a bit today, just throwing a little bit. Again, it's one that I'm not going to rush back. I know that injury can be a little discomforting, but at the same time we want to see where he is at.

Are you still shooting to play Wentz in the last preseason game?

DOUG PEDERSON: [We are] still trying to get him ready for that game, yes.

For WR Jordan Matthews, if he doesn't play in the third preseason game, will you definitely hold him out of the fourth preseason game like all starters usually do?

DOUG PEDERSON: Usually, a guy like Jordan, if he doesn't go this week then I would say let's just get you ready for [the first regular season game against] Cleveland. 

What happened with RB Wendell Smallwood? Was it just a setback?

DOUG PEDERSON: No, it wasn't a setback. We were on schedule to get him out here last week and practice. In those situations, as runners, he felt like he was fine to go but he couldn't hit that fifth gear, so to speak. And that was where the tug was at, so we said listen, we'll give you some more time to rest. [He] got through the game, got through yesterday with the day off and [had] treatment again. We are hoping that [with] a few reps today, [we] could kind-of ease him back this week and that he would be a day-to-day situation [and] a day-to-day player for us. And we expect him to maybe give us a few reps next Saturday [against the Colts].

How big of a challenge is it to get the five starting offensive lineman on the same page? Considering the short amount of time that they wouldn't have had if they were together all training camp?

DOUG PEDERSON: To answer the question, it can be a challenge with new bodies. The one thing that [Eagles Offensive Line Coach Jeff Stoutland] Coach Stout did, is he left all the terminology the same for those guys; carried over from last year and the year before. So the terms for those veteran guys are all the same, so the blocking is the same. Just mixing a guy like Isaac in the mix now, just getting him caught up. He's such a smart guy [that] it's really second-nature for him. But for them to have a full game, a full half of football, and then to get more work this week would be even better now going into the start of the season.

Is Seumalo the starter going forward, or do you want to see C/G Stefen Wisniewski with the first team?

DOUG PEDERSON: Well I'll tell you, Wisniewski has had a good camp, also. I'm not going to crown him the starter at this point, but at the same time, he hasn't done anything to not be the starter. 'Wiz' has done a great job to not only get some time, but also be a quality backup.

How much concern is there in this offense your lack of play-makers? You had a 15-play drive for a touchdown in the Steelers game, but it takes those sort of drives in order to score, as opposed to having the guys to stretch the field?

DOUG PEDERSON: Would you love to have a four-play drive and score? Yeah. Would you like to have a 17- or 18-play drive and score? Yeah. Ultimately, you like to score and score points. I don't necessarily care how we score, as long as we do score. You also saw [WR] Nelson [Agholor] make a couple great catches. [TE Brent] Celek had some catches. We missed on a couple more. Penalties obviously hurt us in that football game. They kept us from some of those big gains, kept us from having some explosive gains. There's a lot more to it than just having guys who can stretch the field. I think scheme can also be a part of what we do offensively and utilizing our personnel to our advantage to create those matchups on defense. Ultimately, we want to score and bottom line is putting our guys in good positions to do that.

Has K Caleb Sturgis been cleared yet? And does S Blake Countess have a concussion?

DOUG PEDERSON: They're day-to-day. They're both in the [concussion] protocol.

They won't be out there today, obviously.

DOUG PEDERSON: No.

I know on Tuesday you had mentioned that … It seemed like you were leaning more towards not playing WR Dorial Green-Beckham. What was it that went into your decision to play him on Thursday?

DOUG PEDERSON: Well, first of all, initially I said he wasn't going to play, and then I wanted to get with him and have [wide receivers coach] Greg Lewis meet with him when we were there in Pittsburgh and just see what he was comfortable taking on and teach him a couple of routes. Basically, I felt comfortable putting him in the game. It's preseason and I wanted to see him out there. I felt like putting him in with [QB] Chase [Daniel], as well. Chase could get him lined up if he needed to and teach him from the huddle some things, but we kept it very small. I think he had two route combinations, which is about all we gave him, and a couple of runs. I just wanted to see him on tape and see him move around.

Do you want to see WR Paul Turner in with the ones against Indianapolis in a situation where he's against the best defenders and working with QB Sam Bradford?

DOUG PEDERSON: Like I said earlier, he's caught our attention. He's definitely a slot receiver. Also, I want to see [WR Josh] Huff in there a little bit. If it comes up and we get the opportunity, I'd love to see him against quality competition – starters – and just see what he can do. He's made some plays the last couple of games. He made two really big catches the other night. Going forward, I just have to see, with the numbers, if we have the opportunity to put him in those situations.

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