Eagles defensive tackle Malik Jackson said Thursday that he deeply appreciates Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie’s efforts this summer, as the team and the city have wrestled with the national discussion of racism and police brutality in the aftermath of George Floyd’s death.
“I’ve never been on a team before where the owner brings people together to talk about social problems like this, so it’s refreshing,” Jackson said.
Jackson prefaced that statement by saying: “Mr. Lurie has done a great job of bringing us together, being able to talk about solutions and things we can do to help our city, and be at the forefront of this revolution, so to speak. [The team meetings] have been going well. A lot of things have been said.
“It’s nice to be in meetings where guys aren’t all in the same mindset, where [some] just don’t understand or haven’t been a part of it, but when you tell them what’s going on and try to break it down to things that’s been going on in this country, it’s eye-opening, and it’s [an] awakening conversation, because, I have to be responsive and take their information, and I think so do they. It’s very welcoming, it’s very wanted.”
Jackson, 30, was the team’s big defensive free-agent signing a year ago, but he suffered a season-ending Lisfranc injury in the opener. That injury derailed the Eagles’ efforts to build difference-making depth at the position, so that opponents wouldn’t be able to focus on Fletcher Cox. This offseason, they went back to that theme when they signed Javon Hargrave, only to have Hargrave suffer a pec strain before padded practices began. Hargrave has said he will be ready for the season opener.
“I told him, at least he can come back. Don’t come to me with no stories — I’ve lost a year. But I know he’s a strong guy,” Jackson said.
With no preseason games this year, NFL coaches will need to simulate game situations in practice. Eagles coach Doug Pederson said that he plans to do that in Friday’s session.
“I’m leaning toward tomorrow, Friday, being the first live, tackle-to-the-ground day,” Pederson said in a Zoom call with reporters. “There are some new players we want to see in sort of game situations. We’re now at the point where we would have had two preseason games, and it’s time to get some answers on some of our young players.”
Pederson said he isn’t concerned about the injuries that have sidelined running back Miles Sanders (week-to-week), defensive end Derek Barnett (week-to-week) and Hargrave (multiple weeks). The inference with the injuries reported so far has been that the team is being cautious, balancing the need to prepare adequately for the season against the goal of having everyone healthy for the Sept. 13 season-opener at Washington.
“My focus is getting the entire team ready to go for our opener,” Pederson said.
Other highlights: Pederson reiterated that Nate Sudfeld remains the No. 2 quarterback, saying that second-round rookie Jalen Hurts is doing well but is still “learning our system.” Asked about youngsters who are doing well, Pederson mentioned, among others, fourth-round rookie offensive tackle Jack Driscoll, who also drew praise from Brandon Graham this week. Pederson said Driscoll “is a smart player” who “details his work.”
Pederson acknowledged that “it’s kind of ‘go time’ ” for Jordan Mailata, the former rugby player from Australia who is in Year 3 of trying to become an offensive tackle.