Pederson Wary of Letdown
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — Doug Pederson has a number of things to worry about these days, starting with the injury report on the defensive side of the ball but the Eagles coach seems most worried about his team's psyche after an emotional win over a division rival.
You couple that with a long trip from coast to coast and the potential is there for a trap game against the 0-3 Los Angeles Chargers, who are far more talented than their record might indicate.
“Any time you win and you win in the fashion that we did, it is emotional,” Pederson admitted during his Wednesday press conference before the Birds began preparing for L.A.'s newest team. “It was a physical football game, No. 1. It was an emotional football game, No. 2. And then to win it, No. 3, you’ve got to keep the guys grounded a little bit."
The Eagles avoided a fourth-quarter collapse against the New York Giants thanks to the strong leg of rookie kicker Jake Elliott, who blasted a 61-yard field goal for a walk-off 27-24 win.
"I think sometime wins can mask a little bit of the we-need-to-get-better mentality," Pederson explained. "We’ve got to continue to get better and show improvement. And so that’s the challenge this week."
The challenge also includes facing a desperate team for the second straight week and one that has the two key ingredients for success in this league: a quarterback (Philip Rivers) and a pass rush (coming from Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram).
“I don’t want them to read a lot of their press clippings because there can be a lot of praise," the coach said. "...We understand that we need to get better.”
As far as that defensive injury report, middle linebacker Jordan Hicks (ankle) was able to do a little work in individual drills on Wednesday but defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (calf) and defensive backs Corey Graham and Jaylen Watkins (hamstrings) remained on the sideline and are all considered day-to-day.
The good news is that safety Rodney McLeod (also dealing with a hamstring) was a full-go at practice.
After a brilliant game against the Giants, center Jason Kelce got a veteran's day at practice on Wednesday. In his absence, Stefen Wisniewski was at center and Chance Warmack at left guard with the first-team, although Wisniewski was working with Jason Peters on combo blocks during individual drills, an early indication he's online to start on Sunday.
“I just feel where he’s at," Pederson said of Kelce. "He’s played good in these first three games."
DARBY REMAINS ON TRACK
Cornerback Ronald Darby (dislocated ankle) is “progressing well and right on schedule,” according to Pederson. The CB1's original timetable was four-to-six weeks after getting injured during the season-opener in Washington. Sunday will mark Week 3.
The Eagles plan to use running back Kenjon Barner, who returned to the team this week in the wake of Darren Sproles' season-ending ACL injury, as a punt returner. Starting receiver Torrey Smith handled that duty last week after Sproles went down. Wendell Smallwood and Corey Clement were still working on the first-team as kick returners on Wednesday, another role Barner could be adept at.
“He’s done it in real games and it will be a great opportunity for him,” Pederson said of Barner. “Then the confidence there that he has done that.”
Barber, who was with the Eagles for the prior three seasons before signing with the Chargers in the offseason, is now wearing No. 38.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen