Q. We are three weeks out from the season opener, compared to a normal season, how far is this team from being ready and does it feel kind of daunting to have a game looming this quickly? (Dave Zangaro)
COACH PEDERSON: When you think about 21 days, I think about ten days of camp left. Then you’re into game week and you’re making some roster moves within the next ten to 14 days. It feels a little different, obviously. Things have moved along and kind of sped along.
But this is everything we have anticipated. This has been my messaging to the team the whole time. Again, we continue to work every single day. I am pleased where the team is at right now. But there’s still some things that we have to work on this week in practice coming up in order to be fully prepared for that first week.
Q. I wanted to ask about your staff. You have quite a few ex-NFL players that are assistants and you also added people like Darren Sproles and players like that to help out. You are an ex-NFL player. You have talked before about the advantages in the locker room to having that experience, can you talk about it once more just about the built-in benefits for these guys of having played the game? (Paul Domowitch)
COACH PEDERSON: I’ve been blessed obviously to have full-time staff members with [assistant head coach/running backs coach] Duce Staley, [tight ends coach] Justin Peelle, [safeties coach] Tim Hauck, guys that have played at this level that are also position coaches now. There’s something to say for guys that have played this game that are now coaches because they can lean on their experiences as a player, which can help sort of teach the younger player how it is to be a pro.
And then I think about that next group of guys. Obviously, Connor Barwin is here. We have Brent Celek that comes into the building. We have Darren Sproles who is helping with us during camp and now Jason Avant, who is with us this camp. These guys now, where a position coach may not be in the locker room as much, these guys can really embrace the team and really, the younger players, again, teaching them what it means to be a pro, but I think more importantly, too, what it means to be a Philadelphia Eagle and representing our city, our fans, and it’s so important for these guys to — for me, to have these guys around our players.
Q. In practice on Friday, it looked like the defensive line had a really good day, but it happened against your offensive line. Is your read on that more the strength of the defensive line, or is there concern about your offensive line after that practice? (Zach Berman)
COACH PEDERSON: No, it was the first time to go live, I guess, and really, I did two different groups. The first group was not a live situation because I wanted guys to practice and practice the whole day. The second group was more of a live, tackle-to-the-ground group.
I’m not concerned. It’s just the way — it’s the ebb and flow of training camp. It’s the way things go this time of the year, and our offensive line has been doing a great job. I’m not concerned with what happened there during practice or towards the end of practice.
What I am obviously preaching hard, and this is both sides of the ball, are the pre-snap penalties we have to address and we have to eliminate, the defensive off-sides or the false starts, things of that nature that either keep our opponent on the field or back us up offensively. Those are the things we have to work through and eliminate. But not concerned at this time with where our offensive line is. I think they are doing an outstanding job.
Q. Year five for QB Carson Wentz. What areas of growth are you focusing on and what goals have you helped set for him? (Tim McManus)
COACH PEDERSON: With Carson, just he’s got another set of skill guys around him, a young group of guys. What I’ve seen and what we’ve talked about a lot is his leadership with those guys, kind of carrying over what he did last year with those young players and how he can kind of shape and mold [them], which is great to see because these young guys are asking him questions when they are in there with him and that’s something that Carson has embraced and will continue to embrace as the leader of the team.
For Carson, it’s just a matter of running the show, running the offense, running the team. He’s going into his fifth year. He knows how to play this game. He plays it just like a professional. He knows how to play. He’s aggressive. We have to maintain that aggressiveness and I think with just continuing to teach and maybe part of the injuries that he’s gone through in the last couple of seasons are things that he can learn from.
Things that we’ve talked about in this setting here that he’s learned from and you see that out on the field. It’s a one-day-at-a-time mentality for he and I. It’s a one-game mentality once we get into the regular season and that’s what we focus on.
Q. With TE Zach Ertz and TE Dallas Goedert and RB Miles Sanders and RB Boston Scott both out, what are you seeing from the young players at tight end and running back who are in their place? (Mike Kaye)
COACH PEDERSON: It’s a great opportunity for these young players to step up in practice and get some great reps with Carson in the one offense, the two offense.
I think [TE] Noah [Togiai] at tight end has done an outstanding job. He’s a smart kid. Picked up the offense extremely well. He’s learning the ins and outs of technique and just maybe how big and fast a defensive end like BG [DE Brandon Graham] might be or [DE] Vinny Curry, guys like that, [DE] Josh Sweat, that he’s going against, so he’s doing a really nice job there.
I think about the running backs. [RB] Elijah Holyfield who is getting a little bit of time now with both Miles and Boston, sort of day-to-day, and it’s a great experience to be out there with Elijah and really [RB] Michael Warren, to be in that first huddle, right. Listening to Carson. Listening to the communication. That’s the only way that these guys can get better and understand this game, and the same way with the receivers, right. Being in that first huddle, just goes a long way because they typically, probably wouldn’t be playing in the first group if we were playing preseason games, right.
So, this is a valuable experience for them. It’s been great to see, and they have done a nice job.
Q. As we’ve mentioned, you’re three weeks away from the season opener. Maybe this is for more some of the young guys who are not getting a taste of preseason games. But is there any intangible you need to introduce in camp in the upcoming weeks just because you won’t have had that experience of a preseason game? (Kristen Rodgers)
COACH PEDERSON: It’s something that I talk a lot with the team about, and it’s just the sense of urgency. It’s understanding where we are. And I just keep bringing up the fact that, hey, we’re X amount of days away. Like today, we’re 21 days [away]. We’re kicking it off for real, 21 days from now.
That sense of urgency I think with the entire team — that’s with coaches, too. That’s not just with the players. And I’ve got to continue to put that out in front of the team. We’ve got to be able to see that. That’s something that we’ve got to be able to touch. It’s real. It’s where we are. It’s where every team is at, quite frankly.
So, that to me, is the one thing that I have to continue to just reiterate with the guys [that] we are getting close and sense of urgency has to be at an all-time high.
Q. It’s been awhile since you’ve had as many new faces in the offensive coaching room, with a young guy like passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach Press Taylor taking more of a lead and an older guy like senior offensive consultant Marty Mornhinweg. How are the dynamics in that room as you guys get to know each other? (Bo Wulf)
COACH PEDERSON: It’s been seamless. It’s been flawless. It’s something that Press has done an outstanding job. He’s in — for lack of a better word, he’s coordinated the offense this spring, this summer, during training camp. He and [senior offensive assistant] Rich [Scangarello] work side-by-side in putting things together.
One of the things that I think having Marty now on staff, it’s just Marty is another set of eyes for us. He’s a great sounding board for me with him being a former head coach and coordinator, somebody that Press can obviously talk to and lean on. And then we just lean on the staff members who have been here, with Duce Staley and Justin Peelle, [offensive line coach/run game coordinator] Jeff Stoutland, obviously guys like that who have been here. [Wide receivers coach] Aaron Moorehead has done an outstanding job with the young receivers that are out there playing. It’s been a really good mix of guys, great ideas flowing, and something that I look forward to when we really start game planning with these guys in the fall.
Q. Going back to what The Athletic reporter Zach Berman was talking about earlier about the defense looking like it’s ahead of the offense at this point or in the practices last week, is that going to be the way it is in the early going this year in the NFL? Is it harder to get the offense really flowing and in sync than it is to put together a defense and have it play coherently, do you think? (Les Bowen)
COACH PEDERSON: I think that it’s kind of like a baseball season where hitters are sometimes ahead of the pitchers early in the season until the pitchers get in their groove and their rhythm.
Obviously with a couple of weeks of padded practices and being limited in what we can do, I think it’s going to be that way, possibly early in the season. But one thing that we’ve got going for us here, and probably many teams around the league, is the veteran presence on offense or a staff that hasn’t changed over a lot of terminology and a lot of things that we haven’t — we’ve introduced some new concepts and some new things, but for the most part,95 percent of our offense is in, and it’s repetitive, so the guys can just get better at what we do. That’s what we have to lean on probably early in the season until we catch our groove a little bit.
Q. Last time we talked to Carson, he was talking about CB Darius Slay and he said he’s different. As a former quarterback what made you notice opposing corners and kind of realize they were on the field and you might have to look the other way? (John McMullen)
COACH PEDERSON: I think No. 1, is you definitely look at their size, their physical traits, their height, weight, speed, length of arm. Those are all things that obviously you can measure. Obviously pass breakups, interceptions, when you watch tape, guys don’t have free releases against really good corners because of their length and their arm length and things like that. And they play with a lot of confidence, and that’s who Darius Slay is. He plays with a ton of confidence out on the field, and he’s a guy that we’re fortunate to have and have had him and brought him on to our roster.
It just makes it harder for offenses to utilize the whole field because when you can have one area of your field or a receiver either taken away or limited, it challenges, because now you’re focused on the other half of the field and that can be a challenge at times. But I just think back to the days when I played and saw some great corners, that it just made it that much harder for offenses to execute.