As injuries take big toll, Eagles alter practice plan
2 games slated in 5 days, so usual Wednesday workout reduced to walkthrough
PHILADELPHIA — A state of emergency was declared by Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson ahead of their Week 3 home game against the Detroit Lions.
Pederson replaced Wednesday’s regularly scheduled normal practice with a walkthrough because of injuries.
Because they have to play a road game against the Green Bay Packers four days after meeting the Lions, Pederson gave his team some muchneeded recovery time after Sunday night’s 24-20 defeat to Atlanta. Pederson previously had canceled practice in favor of a walkthrough only in December and January.
Interestingly, the Packers took the same approach Wednesday.
“This allows everybody to still practice and maintain their focus and get our work done that we need to get done today,” Pederson said Wednesday morning. “I’ve done this before, typically with a Thursday game the following week. But obviously, you know, Week 3 … it’s a unique situation.”
That’s an understatement, but it was necessary for a team that came into its second game at less than full strength and then lost tight end Dallas Goedert (calf ) in pregame warmups, wide receivers DeSean Jackson (abdomen/ groin) and Alshon Jeffery (calf ) in the opening minutes, defensive tackle Tim Jernigan (foot) by halftime and running back Corey Clement on the opening play of the second half.
The first half also saw quarterback Carson Wentz, who took a vicious shot
to the ribcage, and wide receiver Nelson Agholor miss plays while being checked for possible concussions.
The Eagles weren’t in great shape coming in, with cornerback Jalen Mills (foot) on the PUP list and defensive tackle Malik Jackson (foot) and cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc on injured reserve list and a number of others, including linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill (knee) and tackle Jordan Mailata (back), unavailable.
Except for Jernigan, Pederson wouldn’t rule out any player who was hurt at Atlanta for Sunday against the Lions at the Linc. But the team has already braced for Goedert’s unavailability by promoting Alex Ellis from the practice squad, and more moves are almost certain to come if Jackson and Jeffery have to miss any significant time.
Jackson’s and Jeffery’s departures left the Eagles to finish with Agholor, J.J. ArcegaWhiteside and Mack Hollins as their only healthy receivers, and when Agholor was being checked for a concussion, running back Darren Sproles prepped to go in as a slot receiver.
The Eagles also could make a move to add a defensive tackle to replace Jernigan and Malik Jackson, but defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said Tuesday that in the short term they could go with the three healthy players left at that position (Fletcher Cox, Hassan Ridgeway and Akeem Spence). Plus defensive ends Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry also can help out inside.
“I don’t think it’s ideal long-term, just from a standpoint of this is a really long season, and it’s a tough position to play,” Schwartz said. “There’s no other position that you get contact on every single play, and defensive tackles do. … Maybe you’re a guard and pass protection doesn’t come to you and you’re sort of holding space, or you’re a center and you don’t get contact.”
Predictably, Pederson’s decision met with approval in a gracious locker room.
Wentz: “That’s the way we had to go today, and I thought we got a really good workout.”
Graham: “I think Doug did a good job with that, because he’s been there, he’s been a player and he understands if you don’t have the bodies you need to complete a full practice and to get something done, he knows how hard we work and we need bodies, people to relieve each other and help each other, so I think that was the right call.”
Rookie RB Miles Sanders: “God bless Doug for that. God bless him, man.”
Pederson said the late-season success the Eagles had with a similar practice plan last year also factored into the decision.
“I challenged the team this morning … and my leadership council to really take it upon themselves to stay mentally focused and sharp,” he said. “If they have to get any conditioning in between or after practice, they do their own conditioning today and tomorrow and the rest of this week. But having a veteran group that can handle it does make it easier to adjust the schedule this way.”
Doug Pederson, taking questions Sept. 8, reduced Wednesday’s practice to a walkthrough.