Doug Pederson Says Eagles Won’t ‘Hold Back’ Against Overmatched Redskins

JJ Arcega Whiteside

Getty Eagles rookie WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside should see significant playing time Sunday.

It’s opening week around the NFL when the Bears and Packers kick off the season Thursday. Three days later, the main event: Eagles versus Redskins at Lincoln Financial Field. The regular season is finally here.

In a game unofficially being referred to as the fifth preseason game in Philadelphia, the Eagles starters will finally be unveiled to the world. Head coach Doug Pederson decided to rest everyone for the duration of the preseason, save a few first-series snaps in the third game. No one has seen the team running on all cylinders, aside from a two-day joint practice with the Baltimore Ravens in late August.

Pederson addressed reporters Wednesday ahead of Sunday’s season opener against the Redskins. He confirmed what everyone already knew: Carson Wentz has no restrictions and will be full-go. The same goes for Fletcher Cox (foot), DeSean Jackson (finger), Ronald Darby (knee) and Nigel Bradham (toe). They’ll keep an eye on those guys, but otherwise, it’s business as usual.

“The one thing that kind of goes back to the opening day is, these guys haven’t played for 60 minutes, and they haven’t played at a 1:00 game,” Pederson told reporters. “We have to be careful of everybody out there, making sure they stay hydrated, and do all the things necessary to prepare themselves for that. That’s taxing on these guys, as well.”

On the less positive side, there were a few guys that missed Wednesday’s practice. Brandon Brooks, Jason Kelce, Rudy Ford and Derek Barnett were all limited participants, according to the team. Kelce received a non-injury-related day off, but Barnett and Brooks are recovering from injuries. That’s not ideal. If Brooks is out, Halapoulivaati Vaitai will draw the start at right guard. Barnett? Well, let’s hope that is pre-cautionary. Options include Josh Sweat and Daeshon Hall.

Rookes Expected to See Major Playing Time

There has been excitement bubbling over all summer on the Eagles’ rookies, especially at the skill positions. Guys like Miles Sanders, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Andre Dillard. The latter won’t play as he is Jason Peters’ successor-in-training — unless the team requires a third tight end. However, the buzz around Sanders and Arcega-Whiteside has been noticeably percolating in recent weeks.

Head coach Doug Pederson seemed to indicate that both Sanders and Arcega-Whiteside would see significant playing time.

“Yeah, that’s the reason why we had training camp, and really mixed these guys in with the ones, and got them comfortable with [QB] Carson [Wentz], for this reason,” Pederson told reporters. “This is why you draft these guys. I don’t think you hold back. You plug them in, and you go. They have to learn.

“There’s no better teacher than on gameday. Just let them experience the emotion of the game, feel the game, and then go execute how they’re capable. I mean, they’re talented enough to be drafted where they were drafted, so we’re going to use them.”

Although many fans and talking heads are excited about the rookies (see above tweet), the reality is that Jordan Howard and DeSean Jackson will open as the two starters at running back and wide receiver, respectively. By the end of the year? Well, let’s re-evaluate at that point. The Eagles open the regular season Sunday at 1 p.m. against the Washington Redskins.

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