As in­juries take big toll, Ea­gles al­ter prac­tice plan

2 games slated in 5 days, so usual Wed­nes­day work­out re­duced to walk­through

The Morning Call - - SPORTS - By Nick Fierro

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.”

MICHAEL PEREZ/AP

Doug Ped­er­son, tak­ing ques­tions Sept. 8, re­duced Wed­nes­day’s prac­tice to a walk­through.

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