Ped­er­son’s gi­ant headache lit­tle to do with Gi­ants

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Bob Grotz bgrotz@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Bob­Grotz on Twit­ter

PHILADEL­PHIA >> An­other day, an­other se­ries of awk­ward ques­tions for Ea­gles head coach Doug Ped­er­son, who has spent the week ad­dress­ing the wreck­age left by Josh Huff, his for­mer kick re­turner.

Ped­er­son re­minded the au­di­ence at his Fri­day press con­fer­ence that he didn’t sud­denly change his mind about dis­ci­plin­ing Huff, who was cut by the Ea­gles af­ter his ar­rest on gun and mar­i­juana charges.

“I said we were go­ing to get more in­for­ma­tion and we were go­ing to make a col­lec­tive de­ci­sion and that’s what we did,” Ped­er­son said, ref­er­enc­ing re­marks made at a press con­fer­ence Wed­nes­day. “I truly be­lieve that’s the best way to han­dle this. Di­a­logue, have com­mu­ni­ca­tion and do the best thing for the or­ga­ni­za­tion. I think I men­tioned there were cir­cum­stances and con­se­quences to those cir­cum­stances. Those are the things that you have to de­ci­pher.”

Ped­er­son ac­tu­ally did leave him­self wig­gle room in dis­cussing the sad case of Huff Wed­nes­day. He also in­di­cated the trou­ble with Huff could sim­mer just as it has with line­backer Nigel Brad­ham, who was charged with felony bat­tery be­fore train­ing camp, then with a mis­de­meanor weapons charge for car­ry­ing a loaded gun into an air­port. Brad­ham doesn’t go to court on the more se­ri­ous felony charge un­til Jan­uary.

When it was sug­gested Brad­ham was re­ceiv­ing fa­vor­able treat­ment, Ped­er­son replied, “As you know, this is on a case by case, in­di­vid­ual ba­sis, and that one had no im­pact on this one what­so­ever.”

That’s where Ped­er­son and the Ea­gles are as they get ready to play their big­gest game of the sea­son this week­end. Though the Birds have had the Gi­ants’ num­ber, win­ning 13 of the last 16 meet­ings be­tween the teams, both are 4-3 and los­ing contact with the NFC Eastlead­ing Dal­las Cow­boys (6-1). The Ea­gles are 0-2 in the divi­sion.

Ped­er­son, mean­while, has spent a ton of time ad­dress­ing poor judge­ment by Huff, the top kick re­turner in the league. Ped­er­son has heard enough ‘what was your mes­sage to your play­ers’ nar­ra­tives from one smug re­porter to an­other to last a life­time.

He’s been at­tacked for say­ing he tries to be a father fig­ure of sorts to his play­ers. How could a father flat-out get rid of his son, if you will, the next day? Tough love, Ped­er­son ex­plained. “That’s a tough thing,” Ped­er­son said. “This busi­ness is about per­for­mance and how you per­form. And lis­ten, I love ev­ery one of these play­ers. And I’m go­ing to make sure these play­ers are do­ing right by them­selves, by their fam­i­lies and by the Philadel­phia Ea­gles. And again, at the end of the day I’m go­ing to con­tinue to love on Josh and help in ev­ery way I can. But at the end of the day there’s a process that needs to be han­dled and you need to go through . ... It’s do­ing the best thing for the team and the or­ga­ni­za­tion.”

When a ques­tion was fi­nally lobbed about how the loss of Huff would im­pact the depth chart on spe­cial teams, Ped­er­son lit­er­ally ap­plauded.

“Great ques­tion, love it, love it,” said Ped­er­son, who added Ken­jon Barner would re­place Huff and join Wen­dell Small­wood on kick re­turns. Mean­while, rookie Bryce Treggs is slated to make his first NFL ap­pear­ance at wide re­ceiver. He brings speed to the ta­ble.

Huff’s loss will mostly be felt on spe­cial teams, where he starred as a re­turner and as a gun­ner on cov­er­age teams. Spe­cial teams have been vi­tal in help­ing the Ea­gles win, for the most part, the bat­tle of field po­si­tion this sea­son.

Ped­er­son was will­ing to make the sac­ri­fice. He said he was “not per­suaded” by any­one to re­lease Huff.

“I think ev­ery­body in the or­ga­ni­za­tion, from Mr. Lurie down, we want to keep ev­ery­body if we can,” Ped­er­son said. “We just felt, again, for the best of the or­ga­ni­za­tion, for the team, that this was ob­vi­ously the best.”

In the short term, there likely will be grow­ing pains. But now Ped­er­son can po­litely de­cline to take any more ques­tions on Huff.

DON WRIGHT — THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Ea­gles head coach Doug Ped­er­son has pointed out that he never said Josh Huff wouldn’t be cut, he said the team was go­ing to take all the time it needed to look into Huff’s mis­deeds be­fore reach­ing any con­clu­sions on his fu­ture. That took a day.

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