Two Key Questions Tackled by Doug Pederson on Eve of Camp
There are plenty of questions surrounding the Eagles as they open training camp this week, and head coach Doug Pederson took a stab at answering two of them during Monday morning’s videoconference call.
Forget for a minute the biggest question of all, and that is will there be a season despite the bubbling pessimism involving the outbreak of positive tests for COVID-19 among at least 14 Miami Marlins players who were in Philadelphia this past weekend to play the Phillies?
The questions to Pederson a day before veteran players report to camp involved two big changes on the Eagles’ offensive line and the receiver an entire Eagles fan base seemed to want to shed in the offseason, Alshon Jeffery.
The offensive line has been a picture of continuity the past decade but will have a new starting left tackle for the first time since 2008 when Tra Thomas worked the position and a new right guard who has never played the position in his entire 16-year NFL career.
Of course, Pederson was asked about Jason Peters and Andre Dillard.
Peters was re-signed earlier this month after agreeing to a one-year deal and the idea that he would be the starting right guard in place of Brandon Brooks, who will miss 2020 with a torn Achilles.
Peters, 38, had been the team’s left tackle since being acquired in a trade with the Buffalo Bills all the way back in 2009.
“We had many conversations with Jason,” said Pederson. “We took a look at our roster, obviously, and felt that where Jason is, and the type of player that he is, and obviously his leadership on the football team, that the transition would be relatively easy. I’m not saying it’s going to be easy, but it’s relatively easy for him being a veteran guy, moving into that guard spot.”
Third-year man Matt Pryor will likely serve as Peters’ backup.
As for Dillard, well, he is the left tackle, even without the benefit of an on-field offseason.
“We love where Andre is at,” said Pederson. “He’s had a tremendous offseason and the things that he did for us last season. The couple of games he played last season, starting for us, he did well. And it’s just going to be a great opportunity for him moving forward. I’m looking forward to getting those five guys working up front with Stout (offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland) to see where they can go this season.”
As for Jeffery, Pederson said he was pleased with the progress the now-30-year-old receiver is making after Lisfranc surgery late last season.
“Alshon was one of the guys who came back early,” said Pederson. “He’s doing extremely well. Again, he’s in a really good spot. He’s going to continue to work and get himself ready. I don’t put timetables on players, but when he’s ready, he’s ready, and he’ll be back out there on the field with us.
“I’m excited where he’s at. Even though we missed the spring and had this pandemic, he was still working and rehabbing and doing everything he could to get himself ready for the season.”
The wide receiver position is in great flux with only Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, and Marquise Goodwin having extended NFL experience.
Of course, a season ago, quarterback Carson Wentz took an inexperienced group of pass-catchers on a four-game winning streak to go from 5-7 to 9-7 and capture the NFC East title.
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