Eagles’ Doug Pederson Has Creative Idea for Dealing with No Preseason

JJ Arcega-Whiteside

Getty Eagles WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside is looking for a bounce back season in 2020 after struggling in his rookie year.

One of the biggest obstacles to overcome this year will be simulating game-like situations in the absence of live preseason games. Luckily, Doug Pederson has a solution.

The Eagles head coach told reporters on Monday that it’s his job to come up with “creative ways” to evaluate the rookies and back end of the roster guys. In this weird virus-tainted training camp, the first week is spent in a screening stage (read: almost daily COVID-19 testing) and strength and conditioning work begins on Aug. 3. Players won’t even put on the pads for live contact until Aug. 17.

“That’s something as I alluded to earlier just coming up with creative ways, whether I do more scrimmage situations,” Pederson told reporters. “I do a couple of live practices during camp, anyway, and I have to do maybe some more scrimmages and put our young players and put the guys we need answers on in those situations. I have to come up with ways of having game-like situations in practice because we are missing the preseason games.”

It sure sounds like the rookies will be at an extreme disadvantage, just based on the limited reps and uncertain circumstances. Pederson doesn’t necessarily believe that’s true, though. He credited a really strong “virtual” offseason for getting guys up to speed. Now it’s on them to hit the ground running.

“No, I wouldn’t go that far because, as you know, every year, there’s going to be a rookie or two that really steps up and performs and catches our eye,” Pederson said about not relying on rookies. “It doesn’t matter if he’s a guy on offense or defense. He can be a starter on special teams. We can’t forget that.”

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Trimming the Roster, Reading into Early Moves

If the Eagles’ early roster moves are any indication of how they feel about their rookies, then Pederson isn’t giving lip service. He’s convinced his first-year players can make an impact amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Philadelphia cut five veteran players last week: WR Shelton Gibson, WR Marcus Green, DE Daeshon Hall, DT Albert Huggins, CB Tremon Smith. They joined C Keegan Render and CB Trevor Williams on the scrap heap. Their roster now stands at 82 players, plus international practice-squad exemption Matt Leo.

The Eagles could have parted ways with one of their 13 undrafted rookies — WR Khalil Tate was released last week — or a late-round draft pick like Casey Toohill. Keeping them over guys who have seen regular-season snaps is telling. Pederson believes in his system and everyone is buying in.

“We spent some time virtually with our rookies this past week and these guys are in a really good place mentally,” Pederson said. “Now it’s about taking it to the grass, seeing what they know and then leaning on these guys as much as we can throughout training camp.”

Wentz Reports to Camp Looking Jacked Up

Carson Wentz showed up to the NovaCare Complex with his surgical mask on and ready to ball out.

“Things are a little different this year, out here rocking the mask in 90-degree heat,” Wentz said. “I’m excited. There’s a lot of uncertainty going on but one thing I am certain of is if we get the chance to play and when we do, this team is going to be ready to go. I’m just really excited for it and that game one can’t come soon enough.”

The Eagles released a video of the quarterback walking into the practice facility and several fans noted that he looked bulky. Did he add 15-20 pounds of muscle? You be the judge.

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