From the outset, Doug Pederson has cast himself as a player's coach.

As a guy who spent more than a decade in the NFL as a player, he has walked in their shoes. He has worn the uniform.

He has been a part of the unique camaraderie of an NFL locker room.

He has a lifetime membership to that club. He is one of them and always will be.

"Coach Pederson is a great coach," Eagles wide receiver Jordan Matthews said Wednesday. "But at the same time, I feel like I could go fishing with him.

"He's a normal guy to the core. That sense of how he is definitely helps him in the locker room, and with guys around the building."

Some first-time NFL head coaches feel they have to prove themselves to their players, have to let them know who's boss, have to be Mr. Tough Guy.

That's not Pederson's M.O. He prefers to think of himself as more of a modern-day Ward Cleaver than Vince Lombardi. A father who is trying to teach his kids the right lessons, trying to keep them on the straight and narrow.

And when they screw up, like wide receiver Josh Huff did on Tuesday, well, he's not going to disown them.

"It's kind of like you're the father of your house," Pederson said. "You just have to keep talking to your kids and keep reiterating who you represent and what you represent. Your family. The Philadelphia Eagles.

"You have to make smart choices. It's all about choices and consequences in life. If you make bad choices, you have to suffer the consequences."

Huff made a very bad choice Tuesday. Got caught speeding on the Walt Whitman Bridge with an unlicensed gun, hollow-point bullets and marijuana in his car.

His lawyer's going to have his work cut out for him getting Huff out of this mess. New Jersey's gun laws are among the strictest in the nation.

Since the story broke on Tuesday, there's been a hue and cry for Pederson and the Eagles to make an example out of Huff, whose arrest came less than a month after another Eagle, linebacker Nigel Bradham, was arrested at the Miami airport for having a loaded gun in a carry-on backpack.

I'm guessing the hue and cry wouldn't be nearly as loud if it had been a player like All-Pro defensive tackle Fletcher Cox or rookie quarterback Carson Wentz who got caught with the gun, as opposed to a guy with just 13 receptions and a puny 5.5 yards-per-catch average.

But Pederson isn't ready to give up on Huff. He said Wednesday that the team hasn't considered releasing him, but acknowledged that some type of discipline remains a possibility at some point. He said that, "as of right now," Huff will be allowed to play Sunday against the Giants at the Meadowlands.

"Until I find out exactly the severity of it and what's going to happen down the road, right now, (we're going to do) nothing," the Eagles coach said. "We'll take it one day at a time.

"I just want to make sure I'm doing right by these players and they are doing right by themselves, and that we're handling our business away from this building right. And if that means discipline at some point, then we will address it at that point."

But not now, not yet.

Pederson's decision to let Huff play on Sunday didn't go over well with a lot of people outside the NovaCare Complex Wednesday, but it earned him even more respect than he already had in the locker room.

"I think Doug's handling it the right way," safety Malcolm Jenkins said. "Guys make mistakes. Josh is a guy who's been a great teammate since he's been here. He hadn't gotten into much trouble, if any, that I know of.

"You have to keep the big picture in mind. Obviously, I think Josh already understands that a lapse in judgment could jeopardize what we're doing as a team, as well as jeopardize his own well-being and own livelihood.

"But you don't want to act like, this is a bad apple. This is a guy we've relied on heavily and never had any problems with. We can't let one mistake ruin our feelings about him."

Huff had a difficult upbringing. He was raised by a drug-addicted mother who, once, in a fit of rage, tried to kill him by swinging a 2 x 4 at his head.

Until his arrest Tuesday, he had not been in trouble. He had not been a problem child. Pederson doesn't feel one mistake warrants banishment. There is a time for tough love, but this isn't it.

"My job sometimes is to be that father-figure for some of these players and understanding their history and where they've come from and how they grew up," he said.

"It may not be how I grew up as a child or as an adolescent or a teen. But at the same time, I'm going to wrap my arm around them and love on them and try to show them the right decision."

Just because a professional athlete makes a lot of money, it doesn't necessarily mean he's a grown-up.

Pederson has preached time and time again to his players about behaving themselves when they are away from the NovaCare Complex. And yet, this happens. And yet, Bradham gets caught with a loaded gun in an airport. And yet, Bradham gets in a fight with a hotel employee in South Beach. And yet, wide receiver Nelson Agholor gets accused of sexually assaulting a stripper.

"I have tried to relay to them and let them know that, 'Hey guys, you have to know the spotlight is on us,' " Pederson said. "In this city, in this market, the spotlight is on everything we do.

"You have to be smart. You have to make right choices. You have to do things differently. You just have to do them differently because everything is magnified (because of who you are)."

Like the children so many of them still are, sometimes they listen and sometimes they don't.

"That's one big thing that coach Pederson understands," Matthews said. "He's been in the locker room. He knows guys. He knows things happen. So, if anything, he's always going to give positive feedback.

"Is he going to say, 'We've got to find a way to get past this?' Of course. But at the same time, whenever there is a situation like this, the guy knows that he's made a mistake. So coach Pederson is always going to be as positive as possible with him. He's always going to make him feel like family.

"He doesn't come up here in team meetings and get on somebody in front of everybody. He's going to have those conversations in private, one on one."

@Pdomo

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