‘Breaking Through’ a Confidence Crisis with Sidney Jones
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - When it comes to embattled cornerback Sidney Jones, Doug Pederson took the kid gloves off on Wednesday, admitting the talented third-year cornerback may need to "break through that threshold" when it comes to nagging injuries.
A hamstring issue knocked Jones out early in Green Bay and he was dressed only in case of emergency against the New York Jets and perhaps no recent game in Eagles history was any safer than that one.
Jones essentially redshirted his rookie season after tearing his Achilles at his pro day but since 2018, he's missed time with four different hamstring problems, playing in only 13 of a potential 21 games.
"Everybody's built a little bit differently," Pederson said of the recurring issue with Jones. "Body gets tugged and pulled in different ways, but we do everything we can through our medical staff to keep them healthy and try to prevent it as best as we can."
Currently, the Eagles only have four healthy options at CB entering Week 6 and three of them just got here, practice-squad promotees Craig James and Ryan Lewis, along with veteran slot option Orlando Scandrick. That was enough to get through against the hapless Jets and their 32nd-ranked passing offense but the Vikings feature two Pro Bowl-level receivers in Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs, players who can give even the best CBs fits.
The Eagles need Jones to team with Rasul Douglas on the outside as they wait for the calvary of Ronald Darby (hamstring), Avonte Maddox (neck), Cre'Von LeBlanc (foot) and perhaps Jalen Mills (foot).
"I think from a player standpoint, sometimes too you sort of have to push yourself, you've got to break through that threshold," Pederson admitted. "You have to push yourself through that and feel that level of comfort as an athlete."
Asked for clarification on something that certainly at least intimates that Jones perhaps hasn't pushed through in situations others might have, Pederson explained what is essentially a mental hurdle.
"I think sometimes with an injury, I don't care what type of injury, you get to that point through your rehab and your conditioning where you've got to push yourself," the coach said. "You've got to bust through and say, 'OK, I feel good and that still might be a little sore but you feel good.' That's kind of what I mean by that, that threshold where you kind of break through the glass and you're on the other side of it, and then once you get to that point, all the mental stuff goes away and now you can just focus on ball again."
That's where the Eagles need Jones to get but the finish line is easier identified than realized.
"It's something that we've got to keep in mind because you don't want the player, in this case, Sidney, focused on the injury because then it doesn't allow him to play or play fast," Pederson said. "So we have to make sure — and he has to make sure — that he's 100 percent before we put him back out there so he can be confident in his ability."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen