Doug Pederson Dishes on the Redskins, His Depth and Clayton Thorson
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — It's now less than a week before the Eagles season-opener against the Washington Redskins on Sunday and Doug Pederson "fully expects" a long line of rehabbing players to be ready for the game.
That group includes All-Pro defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, as well as other key defenders like cornerback Ronald Darby, defensive end Derek Barnett and linebacker Derek Barnett, as well as Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks.
It's been a sliding scale for most of those in practice with both Darby and Barnett mixing back into team drills, Bradham handling some 7-on-7 work and Brooks doing individual stuff. Cox, however, has been staying away from practice although the veteran star has indicated he only needed one week of preparation and was at a light session on Monday.
Asked specifically about Barnett, who is under a harsher microscope after Philadelphia begged off the Jadeveon Clowney sweepstakes, Pederson was very optimistic.
“I feel really, really good about Derek," the coach said. "He’s been probably the one that’s been practicing the most during training camp, with getting more reps each and every week. So, he’s in a really good spot”.
On his roster as a whole Pederson said it's the deepest since he's been back in Philadelphia but there is still plenty of work to do.
With Washington signing two former Eagles players -- Wendell Smallwood and Treyvon Hester -- in advance of the Week 1 game, Pederson downplayed the "intelligence" narrative sweeping over the Delaware Valley.
"I think it’s a real thing," Pederson said of picking a player's brain before pivoting, "I don’t know how much it plays into the game-planning part of that week. It happens a lot, but I’m sure coaches will pick the brain and see what they know and see what they can use. And probably it just kind of confirms what they’ve seen on tape.”
The Eagles also swapped out developmental quarterbacks over the weekend pulling the plug on fifth-round pick Clayton Thorson in favor of bringing in former New York Giants fourth-round pick Kyle Lauletta, an Exton native. Pederson at least intimated that the Eagles would have liked to get Thorson back in the building but the Northwestern product chose to sign with the Dallas Cowboys practice squad.
“You have to make those decisions to put a guy out there in hopes of bringing him back, and Clayton was a guy we hoped we could get back and put him on practice squad," Pederson explained. "But, other teams are looking at our roster as well, we’re looking at other teams roster. I’m happy for him, that he got picked up, and he’s getting a chance to continue playing in this league.”
As for Lauletta, Pederson said: “We wanted a quarterback, and just not being able to get him back at the time, we had to find and wanted to find another guy we could develop and grow.”
-The Eagles signed cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc to a one-year contract extension through 2020. LeBlanc is currently dealing with a sprained foot and is not expected to play in Week 1.
-Backup offensive tackle Jordan Mailata was listed as “week-to-week” by Pederson after further evaluation on a balky back, a clear indication that Mailata will be inactive against the Redskins.
-Pederson basically confirmed the starting cornerbacks will be Ronald Darby and Sidney Jones on the outside with Avonte Maddox as the nickel CB but did say all four which includes Rasul Douglas will play a lot vs. the Redskins. Darby will likely need a little time to ramp up to full-time duty.
-Kamu Grugier-Hill was in the locker room and gave a positive update on his rehab from a sprained MCL that will keep him out of the lineup for at least a few weeks into the regular season.
-Undrafted rookie OL Nate Herbig discussed Jason Kelce's first veteran's day this summer being the crux of his roster push.
-Lane Johnson, who said he was ready to go for Week 1, called Ryan Kerrigan the "heartbeat" of the Redskins.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen