Banged-up Eagles Begin Prep for Vikings
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The Eagles returned to practice Wednesday with plenty of key contributors missing, including defensive linemen Fletcher Cox and Derek Barnett.
Also missing at the small portion open to the media were running backs Corey Clement and Darren Sproles, as well as receiver Alshon Jeffery.
Sproles and Clement, of course, have been out and Doug Pederson remained coy about their status when he spoke before the session.
"I'm expecting for Darren to continue to work and work through his injury," Pederson said when asked about Sproles, who has missed three consecutive games with a hamstring injury. "He's day-to-day. Again, as a runner, I just want to make sure that he's 100 percent."
As for Clement, who missed Sunday's overtime loss at Tennessee with a quad injury, Pederson pointed to caution.
"I don't want to risk a further injury with any of these guys, with these types of injuries," the coach claimed. "So just kept him out one more week."
The absence of Sproles and Clement proved costly against the Titans as reserve running back Wendell Smallwood struggled with his blitz pickups as Carson Wentz was sacked four times and hit another 11.
"He needs to improve," Pederson said when discussing Smallwood. "That's something that he knows and is aware of. He's a smart guy. He understands what happened. His eyes were just in the wrong spot.
"It just comes down -- when teams pressure us, and really any team that pressures us, we've got to be so disciplined in our communication, whether it’s verbal or nonverbal. I'm not worried about Wendell. He's a great blitz-pickup back, tough, will stick his nose in there, and he'll bounce back."
Cox, the All-Pro defensive tackle who has been playing 86 percent of the snaps early on, briefly left against the Titans early in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury but immediately returned.
Jeffery made his 2018 debut against the Titans and was very effective with eight receptions for 105 yards and a touchdown after missing two days of practice with a virus. This time Jeffery is missing time with a chest injury.
As for Barnett, the second-year defensive end who has 2 1/2 sacks, was down with a shoulder problem.
Despite all the issues early this season, Pederson insisted that there is no reason to start panicking.
"When you sit back and you look and you get time these last couple days to evaluate kind of where we are, the sky is not falling," he said. "The sun came up today. We're 2-2. We're still in good position, control our own destiny. A lot of football ahead of us and there is no panic.
“You're two plays away from maybe being 0-4 and two plays away from being 4-0. That's how tight this thing really is. Therefore, with that being said, as coaches, we’ve got to make sure we're doing our part to prepare our players and get them ready."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen