Eagles Only Considered DTs After Jackson Injury
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Comfortable with a defensive end group that runs six deep, Doug Pederson confirmed Wednesday that Chris Long wasn't an option to replace defensive tackle Malik Jackson on the Eagles roster.
Jackson was placed on injured reserve Tuesday and there is a "good chance" he's done for the season, according to the head coach. Veteran defensive tackle Akeem Spence, a player with extensive starting experience, was signed Tuesday after a work out to add to the depth inside.
Pederson noted that Spence will serve as the fourth defensive tackle in the rotation and there is a chance the Illinois product could play against Atlanta on Sunday night.
"Coach (Phillip) Daniels will get him coached up with what he needs to know and it’s realistic,” Pederson said.
That also means Tim Jernigan and Hassan Ridgeway get bumped up a notch on the depth chart with Jernigan likely replacing Jackson as the starter on the interior next to Fletcher Cox with Hassan Ridgeway now serving as the third interior option.
Coming off a difficult season from a health standpoint, Jernigan will continue to be monitored closely, according to Pederson.
"I still think we have to be cautious [about Jernigan]," Pederson said when asked by 973espn.com about the veteran. "That's an injury [herniated disc] that you don't see all the time. He's felt good and we've had great communication with him. We've given him rest during camp and things like that to try to get him to this point. But I didn't see any signs of any setback or reoccurrence of the injury. He played well and that gives him confidence."
The popular Long, meanwhile, is happy in retirement and had been looking for a certain role as a third-down pass rusher if he was going to return for another season. With Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett, Vinny Curry, Josh Sweat, Daeshon Hall, and Shareef Miller all on the roster at DE, the Eagles remain comfortable at that position.
As for Spence, Pederson also gave a mini-scouting report on what to expect from the 27-year-old, 6-foot-1, 307-pound run stuffer.
“He’s a big guy, physical,” Pederson said. “[Eagles defensive assistant] Matt Burke was with him in Miami. [Spence] can be disruptive. He definitely fills the need we have there at that open spot. He’ll give us some really good minutes as a fourth tackle. But we’ll get him out of the field today, get him caught up, see how he moves around and fits in with the scheme.”
WEDNESDAY WRAP AROUND:
-With foot injuries becoming a bit of an issue (Jackson, Jalen Mills, Fletcher Cox, Cre'Von LeBlanc) Pederson said the Eagles are cognizant of the issue and looking at the potential of a theme.
"Yeah, just like with anything, like we did with soft tissue, ACL’s, whatever it might be, we look into everything," he said. "This is no different. It's kind of like the injury that has popped up on our team this year. It seems like every year it's a different one.
"... We're getting a lot of data from league sources that we've done in the past through that, and try to educate our players on whether it be field surface issues, all kinds of stuff."
-The Eagles have had a lot of success against the Falcons and former MVP Matt Ryan, an Exton native, in the Doug Pederson era but the coach is mindful that all of it has been in Philadelphia. Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta figures to be a much tougher atmosphere, especially in a home-opener atmosphere.
"We have been fortunate to have all those games here since I've been here, they’ve home games for us," Pederson noted. They're a different team obviously when they’re playing at home in front of their crowd. He’s very dynamic and electric and they do some great things in that dome."
-DeSean Jackson has a practice speed and a game speed, something Pederson estimated as 16 MPH for the former and 22 for the latter.
"DeSean will tell you, he's got practice speed and he’s got game speed," the coach joked. "Practice speed is around 16 miles per hour and game speed is up to 22. He's a gamer. He's dynamic, he’s electric, and he loves when the lights come on. That speed is real, and we saw it Sunday."
-On the RB committee, the Eagles will be keeping an eye on Darren Sproles' touches moving forward after the veteran had 16 against the Redskins.
"We always are going to monitor that each week," Pederson admitted. "... We still want to keep him involved as best we can, but at the same time we want to make sure that Miles [Sanders] and Jordan [Howard], because they're both younger backs and can -- are good and keep that rotation solid, along with Corey [Clement]. So we'll keep an eye on it.
-Carson Wentz confirmed he reached out to Nick Foles after the latter suffered a broken left collarbone in his Jacksonville debut.
"I love Nick to death," Wentz said. "... That's really a bummer & unfortunate. But that's what we sign up for. When you play this game, there are only so many things you can't control."
-Wentz also chimed in on his tremendous success on third- and fourth-and-short with the QB sneak:
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen