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McLane: Will Pederson's approach to Agholor's struggles work?

If Nelson Agholor hadn't admitted after the Seahawks game that he had succumbed to pressure, would Doug Pederson have put the Eagles wide receiver on notice?

If Nelson Agholor hadn't admitted after the Seahawks game that he had succumbed to pressure, would Doug Pederson have put the Eagles wide receiver on notice?

The errors Agholor made were egregious enough to suggest that he should be benched, or at least have his playing time reduced. But what his confessional news conference essentially did was allow for "Love 'Em Up" Pederson to cite the receiver's fragile state of mind rather than his lack of production as the primary reason for potentially having him take a step back.

Agholor, who spoke on Friday for the first time since the Seattle loss, seemed to buy it.

"He gave me an opportunity to get better by putting me in a situation," Agholor said, "and what's in front of me right now is an opportunity to show mental toughness, to show resiliency . . . to prepare the right way and be there.

"Next-man-up mentality."

No one seems to know how much Agholor will play on Monday night against the Packers, if at all. But he certainly practiced less with the first-team offense. The Eagles signed Paul Turner off the practice squad on Monday, and he has been tossed into mix.

"We're trying to get five receivers ready to play," offensive coordinator Frank Reich said when asked whether Agholor was part of the game plan.

The Eagles have had only four receivers active all season, but running back Ryan Mathews' knee injury may allow for Pederson to have five and sprinkle in Agholor to avoid a definitive benching.

It's easy to sit back and say Agholor should be released. But there are salary-cap ramifications, and as of now he remains one of the Eagles' four best options at receiver, although that may say more about the group than it does Agholor.

If there was an opponent that would best permit the second-year receiver to regain some of his confidence, it might be the Packers, who have allowed more passing yards per play than any other defense in the NFL.

And if Pederson plans to play Agholor, he might as well go to him early. A first-series catch may go a long way. But if he drops it - and it's safe to assume the reaction a mistake will garner from Eagles fans at the Linc - it could signal a lost cause.

Turner is primarily a slot receiver, so he won't completely fill in for Agholor. All the Eagles receivers line up in various spots, but Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham have been the primary outside receivers, while Jordan Matthews has been the primary inside guy.

Less Agholor will likely mean more of Green-Beckham, Bryce Treggs, and Matthews on the outside.

"I think whatever the coach's decision is, it's something I have to respect," Agholor said. "To be honest with you, he made a decision, and every day it churns in my mind, I feel like I'm growing. . . . It's not about thinking, it's about responding."

Pederson faced a similar situation with Ryan Mathews after he fumbled late in two of three games. The coach used a toothache against the Cowboys and trailing early against the New York Giants as reasons for lightening Mathews' load, but the running back didn't start in either game and was conspicuously absent in both fourth quarters.

Mathews got the start, though, the following week against the Falcons and had 19 carries - his most since the season opener - for a season-high 109 yards. And he didn't fumble, nor has he had a turnover since.

Pederson's experience as a player has been mentioned by numerous people since his hiring, from owner Jeffrey Lurie down to Agholor, as a positive in his handling of the locker room. He has pushed some of the right buttons as it relates to off-the-field business - from his gentle touch during Sam Bradford's holdout to neutrality during Fletcher Cox's contract negotiations.

But the jury is still out on whether his passive responses to Agholor's strip-club incident and to Nigel Bradham's arrests struck the right note. It took Josh Huff's arrest for Pederson to draw a line at the NovaCare Complex door. Of course, there is still some ambiguity as to who is ultimately making those calls.

Pederson also raised an eyebrow or two when he divulged that Agholor had been seeing one of the Eagles' sports psychologists for the last couple of weeks. The 23-year-old confirmed it Friday but understandably opted to keep the sessions private.

"It's just one of the opportunities that the team gave me," Agholor said. "They care about me as a football player and as a man, and [I've] just been taking advantage of it."

The man has certainly gotten in the way of the football player. Agholor has conceded that outside noise from fans and the media has filtered into his head. He said the way to block it out is "don't think, trust."

"He's going through a rough time right now, and it's real," Reich said. "You don't want to deemphasize it. It's real. He feels it, we all feel it. But at the same time, you have to keep the perspective that the good players and the strong players are going to bounce out of it, just like we believe he will."

Reich said that Agholor has the skills to beat press coverage and get separation at the top of his routes. He said that practice hasn't been the problem; it's been lost in translation to the game.

"It's about, don't get in your own way. Have fun," Agholor said. "Don't worry about anything else. Just have fun and play in that one moment."

Agholor said all the right things five days after his admission of doubt. But does he believe it? And just as important, does Pederson? The answers come Monday night.