Foles Set to Start Again in Tampa
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - It wasn't exactly earth-shattering news but Doug Pederson did confirm that Nick Foles will be the starting quarterback in Tampa on Sunday.
"Nick Foles is starting," the Eagles coach said on Wednesday. "Are we good?"
Carson Wentz, who will hit the ninth-month, post-ACL/LCL surgery on Thursday, is still not cleared for contact and is taking some scout-team reps to stay as sharp as possible.
"Have you heard Carson cleared yet?" Pederson responded when asked about Wentz's status. "Ok, there you go."
When the Eagles coach was asked about an ESPN report claiming that Wentz was on the verge of returning due to positive GPS-tracking, Pederson admitted the data was trending in a positive direction but he also said the same thing over the summer when Wentz was pushing for Week 1.
"That's what we've seen really since he came back into 11-on-11, as training camp progressed. His strength, lower body strength, upper body strength, all trending in the right directions," Pederson assessed.
Foles struggled mightily in the season-opener against Atlanta, completing 19-of-34 passes for just 117 yards and a 50.7 passer rating.
The goal is to get Foles, a streaky QB, in rhythm early against a Tampa Bay defense which was often gashed in a shootout win over New Orleans in Week 1.
"One, we could hurry up tempo. I think it's a good way to get the quarterback into rhythm," Pederson said when talking about helping Foles. "Then, early in games, find plays that are completion-type plays, that are kind of the no-brainer; you don't have to think a lot; you're not necessarily into the heat of the battle yet.
"You always have those types of plays in your game plan that are just -- the ball is out. Whether it's a quick throw or quick play-action or something of that nature that becomes a quick little completion play for the quarterback, [it] can help him settle in and get into the game."
BUCS LOSE TOP CB, DEALING WITH OTHER INJURIES
The Eagles are struggling a bit at wide receiver but they will be facing a Buccaneers team without its most talented cornerback.
Tampa Bay is placing Vernon Hargreaves, the 11th overall pick in the 2016 NFL draft, on injured reserve today due to a shoulder injury he suffered against New Orleans in Week 1.
Meanwhile, starting defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul was spotted with a larger brace on his right knee by reporters in Tampa.
"My knee is jacked up," JPP admitted. "Banged up. Ask me if I can play Sunday, I don't know."
Finally, DeSean Jackson remains in the concussion protocol.
Tampa Bay coach Dirk Koetter wouldn't address any of the injury issues during his conference call with the Philadelphia-area media deferring to the injury report which will be released later Wednesday.
EAGLES TRADE WHEATON FOR AIKEN
The news broke that receiver Kamar Aiken would be back with the Eagles for practice on Wednesday and the corresponding roster move was the release of Markus Wheaton.
The Eagles are clearly looking for size on the outside with Alshon Jeffery and Mack Hollins out of the lineup and the 6-foot-2 Aiken offers some of that.
"Last week, obviously, Markus was a good fit for us. Gave us depth at the position," Pederson said. "Listen, our personnel department, they do a great job of each week bringing in guys, whether they’re practice squad candidates or potential 53-man roster candidates. To always constantly -- I don't want to say upgrade -- but provide more depth at a position. So, this week it was Kamar.
"Kamar gives us depth. He gives us experience. He gives us some special teams availability. It's a good fit."
Jeffery, meanwhile, is still not working in team drills and only doing individual work during practice.
"Alshon is going to be back on the field and he'll be working individual, group install stuff. But again, no 11-on-11," Pederson explained.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen