Testy Pederson Puts Eagles in Pads
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - An inconvenient week began for the Eagles at the NovaCare Complex on Sunday with a testy Doug Pederson at the podium.
As the reigning Super Bowl champions, Philadelphia opens up the NFL season early when it hosts the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday, Sept. 6.
That makes this Thursday's annual preseason finale against the New York Jets even less important than usual and nothing more than a necessary evil until the Eagles can lock in on preparation for the Falcons.
In fact, that will begin in earnest this week as the bottom of the roster ramps up for the Jets even though the coach wouldn't quite admit it.
"Same, seven days," a curt Pederson said before practice. "We're playing a Thursday schedule all through preseason, and it's like a Sunday to us, so the schedule doesn't change."
It does for the starters at least as All-Pro right tackle Lane Johnson confirmed in the locker room that prepping for the Falcons has already begun.
A 0-3 preseason start, coupled with some travel difficulties and publicity demands due to his book being released have seemingly put an edge on Pederson, who shifted practice from shells to full pads in order to get the attention of his players.
Helping matters a bit was the return of a few key pieces on offense, receiver Nelson Agholor and running back Corey Clement, players who have been nursing lower-body injuries. Also back for this session were two bubble players: receiver Markus Wheaton and RB Donnel Pumphrey.
The biggest news is that we are T-minus two weeks from a preparation standpoint for the Falcons and Carson Wentz is still not cleared for contact and his top receiver, Alshon Jeffery, remains on the PUP list.
"Nothing further at this time," was Pederson's short answer regarding Jeffery.
When it came to Wentz, who is working in some team drills, Pederson showed his frustration even more.
"I don't know how many times I can answer this question," he said. "When [the doctors] clear him, he'll be cleared.
"I'm not going to put myself in a box, I'm not going to put my quarterback in a box. I'm not going to do that. I'm not going to go out on a limb and I'm not going to say that. Either ask it a different way or otherwise, I'm -- you're going to get the same answer."
SUNDAY PRACTICE NOTES:
-It looks as if time is running out on Wheaton and fellow veteran receiver Kamar Aiken, who have been banged up.
"Well, they need to be out there," Pederson admitted. "Markus should work back a little bit into practice this week, and we'll see where he is each day and evaluate him each day. I'm hopeful that he'll get a chance to play in this game."
-Pederson did say the recently signed QB Christian Hackenberg will get some work against his former team, the Jets.
-Despite his bad mood, Pederson said some good things happened on the offensive side of the ball during the 5-0 loss in Cleveland.
"It actually wasn't bad at all," the coach claimed. "The worst thing about it, obviously, were the turnovers and the missed opportunities, but we had some really good things in the game."
-Others missing practice on Sunday included running back Jay Ajayi (lower body), tight end Richard Rodgers (knee) and receivers Mack Hollins and Bryce Treggs (hamstring).
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen