COURTESY OF PHILADELPHIA EAGLES MEDIA RELATIONS DEPARTMENT
Q. You are getting close to padded practices. You mentioned a while back that you wanted to have some scrimmages during training camp to make up for the lack of preseason games. Have you decided how many you want to have and how you are going to format them? (Dave Zangaro)
DOUG PEDERSON: I’ve had a chance to kind of go through the whole schedule. The padded portion, which starts next Monday, obviously looking forward to that. As you guys know, I typically have two days where it’s more of a live, controlled-live sort of practice, tackle to the ground. I’m going to stick to that schedule. I’m going to stick to two days of having situational, scrimmage-type practices. I feel like it’s a great way to get our guys prepared to game situations, game action.
Q. What were these last 10 days like for you? How challenging and how nerve-wracking was it? What were your emotions like these last 10 days? (Ed Kracz)
DOUG PEDERSON: I obviously didn’t want to miss any time if I didn’t have to, but I stayed engaged virtually with the team. I was able to watch the practices and stay up on everything that we did and still run the team from my home. I think that’s something that the offseason taught us and taught me, how to do that virtually. But at the same time, I was chomping, I was ready to get back here and be out on the grass with the players.
Q. By missing a lot of the OTAs, you were out for a while, less grass time. How do you catch up, both you as the head coach and as the team? (Howard Eskin)
DOUG PEDERSON: We haven’t had OTAs yet. It’s been acclimation. It’s been classroom. It’s been walk-throughs. We haven’t done our OTAs. Today actually began kind of the Phase II with everybody. We really haven’t had an OTA practice yet.
Q. Normally you have a lot more installed, a lot more things done, the rookies… How do you catch up, even though you said you were watching the practices? (Howard Eskin)
DOUG PEDERSON: I guess the thing is, for you to understand where we’ve been for the last two weeks, we’ve put in our entire offense and defense. It’s already installed. We’re working through situational football now. We’re working through all the different scenarios even though we’re doing walk-throughs and we’re doing classroom.
We’ve had time with these players, even on the grass. We’ve had time with our rookies this past week. So, we’re really not playing catch-up. The only thing we’ve missed really is probably just the live practices that we would have had under a normal situation. Tomorrow I think would have been our first pre-season game. We’ve got everything that we need in if we were to play a game tomorrow. We’re not really playing catch-up, we’re just enhancing what we have moving forward.
Q. You’ve got a little more than a month for the season to start. What do you need to know the most right now? What do you need to find out more than anything else as you are moving into real practices? (Les Bowen)
DOUG PEDERSON: Well, I think there’s a couple things that we need to know. I think the first one is obviously the guys that we have in the starter roles, starter positions, making sure that they’re in the right frame of mind, their bodies are conditioned. Those are the things we’ve got to know in the next few weeks leading up for that first game.
I think the second thing is obviously the new additions to the team – the free agents, draft picks, undrafted guys. Those are the guys we have to have our answers on as coaches.
So, as we continue throughout the process, and we begin to put pads on next week, those are some of the answers that we’re going to get leading up to that first regular-season week.
Q. What happened with LB Jatavis Brown? He was the only veteran you added among the linebackers this offseason. What do you think of that group a month away from the season? (Zach Berman)
DOUG PEDERSON: I think highly of our linebackers. I’m really excited for this group. It’s a young group and it’s a very energetic group, something that we focused on – ‘we’ being [Eagles Executive Vice President/General Manager] Howie [Roseman], our scouts and our personnel department – we focused on through the offseason, through the draft and whatnot.
In Jatavis’ case, listen, everybody goes through different things in life. There are times when you just come to a point where maybe you just don’t have the passion, the drive. It’s unfortunate because he’s a great kid. He and I had a great conversation last week. I understood where he was coming from.
When your heart’s not in something, you don’t want to do the team, you don’t want to do yourself, your teammates a disservice. I respect that of him and have a lot of respect for that decision. That’s a tough decision for a player to come to, to be able to step away from a game that he loves obviously. I have a lot of respect for Jatavis and wish him all the success and all the best moving forward.
Q. You are saying live periods will be the same, so essentially training camp will be the same as it’s been? (Jeff McLane)
DOUG PEDERSON: Yes.
Q. Is it the same amount of practices? (Jeff McLane)
DOUG PEDERSON: I think I have eight or nine padded practices throughout the next two and a half weeks or so leading up to the first regular season week. Then there are also some days off on the CBA.
Listen, I guess this is not the time or place to get through the scheduling, but I think there are about eight or nine padded practices in the next couple weeks.
Q. Obviously with no pre-season, you’re going to have to use this more for evaluation. How do you balance needing to evaluate the players during this period with also going through situational football, doing all the scheme stuff? (Jeff McLane)
DOUG PEDERSON: I think that’s the fine line. I think that’s the balance that we as coaches have to come up with. This is why when I had a chance to really dive into the schedule and how things are situated and where things are situated in the next couple of weeks, that’s the fine line.
We have to be able to get answers on these players. All 32 teams are in the same boat, same situation, same scenario. It’s a matter of putting these players in practice situations to be successful to show us what they can do.
Once the pads come on, you really start seeing, again, the physicality of guys, and how well they’re going to suit what we need as an offense, defense and obviously special teams.
Q. Do you think practices will be more intense because guys don’t have the pre-season to show off, show you what they got? (Jeff McLane)
DOUG PEDERSON: I don’t know if they’ll be any more intense than what they are. Training camp practices are grueling anyway. The one thing you don’t have when you are not playing games, you don’t have as many days off, where guys have days off. They have a game where the starters play a series or two in the first couple of games, then they have the next day off and we go back to work.
It’s a little more of a fluid schedule, I would say, for the next couple of weeks. We’re going to have a lot of good answers because of the amount of days that we have stacked back-to-back or end-to-end coming up.
Q. WR Greg Ward got a lot of playing time for you guys at the end of last season because of injury. Now that everybody is healthy, you brought in some new receivers, how do you see his role changing? Do you still thinking he’s going to be a starting-type player for you guys? (Eliot Shorr-Parks)
DOUG PEDERSON: I’ve always liked Greg. He’s been on our practice roster. As a young player we activated him. He played last year, as you mentioned, did well.
The one thing now as he goes into this season, he’s in that rotation, in that starting mix for us. It’s just a matter of him embracing every day, getting better. Being a former quarterback, he understands our offense. Being in our offense, he knows the concepts and the routes. He and [QB] Carson [Wentz] have a really good feel for one another.
I think for him now it’s just a matter of continuing to get better each and every day and putting in the work. We expect some really big things from Greg. He can also be a leader. He can be a leader of that group. Him and [WR] DeSean Jackson, [WR] Alshon Jeffery, these guys, they can be leaders now and mentors to these young players.
Q. You’ve always given all your guys reps with the ones. We would see guys rolling in and out, backups, rookies, everybody. Without pre-season games and having to get your starters ready, what is the plan as far as reps in general? Will you still have the luxury of mixing and matching, giving everybody a chance to run with the ones or will you have to focus on the starters getting most of those reps? (Reuben Frank)
DOUG PEDERSON: The bottom line is, yeah, we have to make sure the starters get the right amount of reps heading into the regular season, and that they’re prepared, number one.
You’re absolutely right, one of the things I like to do is get a young player at any position, get a young player in there with the starters on offense, on defense, even on special teams, to see where they are, and to get more of that game feel.
I can remember back when I was a young player getting reps with those starters. I mean, it gets your juices going a little bit. It’s exciting for that player, but at the same time, that’s a game rep for them. That’s a true feeling on what game day is like.
I’m still going to do that. The coaches are going to do that. The coordinators are going to do that and make sure that our guys, one, they’re prepared to go and do that, then at the same time it allows us to find answers on some of these young players.
Q. How will practice look different this year given the COVID considerations? What is going to look different structurally? Are mouth shields going to be part of the equation for you guys? (Tim McManus)
DOUG PEDERSON: One, you guys won’t be out there, which will be kind of nice (joking/smiling). I’m just kidding.
The coaches, we’re going to coach in either face shields or masks. That’s part of protocol. We definitely want to protect ourselves, protect our players that way. That’s going to be different.
A lot of times, from a socially distancing standpoint, we can still coach from a distance and still get our work done, still be following protocol and all of that.
Other than that, really you’re not going to see a lot of wholesale changes. Maybe the amount of people we have out there as far as ballboys, trainers, strength and conditioning staff. Obviously, those numbers are way down than what we would have in a normal training camp situation.
Other than that, there’s not a lot of wholesale changes we’re going to make moving forward.
Q. Are you doing the mouth shields? (Tim McManus)
DOUG PEDERSON: We have those. I think some of the players are going to try them and see if they like them. Obviously being my first day back, I did see a few guys today have them because today was the first day they could have their helmets on.
We’ll go the next couple of days, get a feel for it, and see if the guys like them.