Doug Pederson appears to be a trendsetter.
The Eagles coach canceled Wednesday’s full-padded practice in favor of a light walk-through in an unusual move. By the end of the day, two more teams had announced that they were doing the same thing.
Pederson said the decision came primarily from the mounting injuries the team has suffered coming off Sunday’s loss to the Atlanta Falcons and the challenge of playing Thursday, Sept. 26 at Green Bay on a short week.
If the team had been full-speed in practice Wednesday, some players might have been forced to sit out with injuries. Pederson said the lighter work during the walk-through would enable them to get some reps with the starting offense ahead of Sunday’s home game against the Detroit Lions.
“It’s a couple things, with the guys that are a little nicked up who have a chance to play in this football game, I want them to get the reps in practice,” Pederson said. “Then we have some young guys that might have to play, and they’re also servicing the defense or the offense. This way, it allows everybody to still practice and maintain their focus.
“I want these guys as fresh as possible for these next two weeks,” Pederson added. “I have to think big picture here — it’s early in our season — in keeping guys as fresh as possible now so that we can make a push later in the season. So that’s also a factor in the decision.”
The Packers, preparing for the short week against the Eagles coming up, and Indianapolis Colts held varying versions of walk-throughs on Wednesday as well.
Packers coach Matt LaFleur said he wanted to give his team a “mental day." Colts coach and former Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich said his team would be doing an up-tempo walk-through to keep guys rested.
The Eagles are heading into this stretch with injuries to Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Dallas Goedert, and Corey Clement on offense. Jackson is reportedly dealing with an abdominal injury and will miss about two weeks.
Pederson has decided to forgo Wednesday practices in the past, but it’s typically done late in the season when the team is banged up and in need of rest. Canceling a practice this early in the season is atypical.
Not surprisingly, the move earned praise from his players.
“Doug did a good job with that," defensive end Brandon Graham said. "He’s been there, he’s a player, and he understands he doesn’t have the bodies he needs to complete a full practice. It’s cool when you have a players’ coach, someone that really listens to his players.”
While the lightened load will benefit veteran players and those returning from injury, it could slow the development of young players such as J.J. Arcega-Whiteside as they assume new roles. Pederson said they would do some “full-speed stuff” with Arcega-Whiteside and Hollins to get them acclimated with the first-team offense.