Q. Obviously it’s an unprecedented time in sports with everything going on around every sport. With your guys, what do you see your role in this whole process of the social justice committee and the team meeting and everything that’s been going on? (Reuben Frank)
DOUG PEDERSON: It’s obviously something that is real. It hits all of us. It hits everybody a little bit differently, but at the same time, I’m focused on my players and the well-being of my players, and quite frankly, there’s times when sports get put to the side because of some of these issues.
It’s the ongoing conversation that we’re going to have here. We began dialogue last week. We’re going to continue the conversations. As a leader, as the coach of these guys, it’s my job to listen, to help facilitate, to support. And that’s where we are right now.
A lot of our players, a lot of our Black players are hurting from the standpoint of this is close to home for many of them. So for me, it’s about understanding, it’s about learning, it’s about gaining knowledge, and then being able to support our guys.
Q. Can you confirm that T Andre Dillard tore his biceps and that his season is over? And what is your plan at left tackle, and if G Jason Peters were to move to left tackle at right guard? (Jeff McLane)
DOUG PEDERSON: Yes, Andre Dillard suffered the injury last week in practice and definitely — it’s unfortunate. He had a tremendous off-season. He was having a really good camp for us, coming in healthy, strong. It’s unfortunate, but he’ll get better. He’ll heal from this and be ready to go.
In regard to left tackle, Jason Peters is obviously in the conversation. We do have some young players, [T] Jordan Mailata, [G/T] Matt Pryor, [T] Jack Driscoll, who’s a rookie obviously but playing some tackle for us. But we’ve got a couple of guys now including Jason Peters that we want to look at over at the left side. J.P. has done an outstanding job, coming in, playing the right guard spot. We’re going to continue to look at him there, as well, but we have some options. We’ve got a couple of days here before, one, roster cuts, but obviously getting into the regular season.
Q. Andre will be placed on injured reserve? (Jeff McLane)
DOUG PEDERSON: At some point, yes.
Q. When we had a chance to talk with some of the players last week, they had mentioned that on Friday they were going to have a meeting to determine maybe like one symbolic gesture to show a sense of positivity through all of these issues, that of course they didn’t want to cancel practice, they wanted to show something else. Do you have an idea about what those action plans are going to be moving forward to showing that commitment to change? (Kristen Rodgers)
DOUG PEDERSON: I do have, I think, an idea of what the players, what the team, organization would like to do. I’m going to have a conversation today with a few of the representatives of the football team, some of the players, typically my player committee as we make final decisions on what we want to do.
I do know this, though, that the guys feel strongly about practices and games and being out there and doing their jobs that way, but at the same time we want to make sure that if something is done that we do it in right way, and so having these conversations now to make sure things are properly done is where we’re at right now and going to continue to carry on these conversations.
Q. A few of those guys you mentioned as possibilities at left tackle have zero NFL experience. T Jordan Mailata obviously has little overall football experience. How concerned are you about the backups now after Andre Dillard’s injury? You don’t have a ton of experience there. (Dave Zangaro)
DOUG PEDERSON: I mean, listen, I didn’t have a whole lot of experience, either, becoming a head coach for the first time. You get it by doing it.
We’ve had situations here, I go back to Big V [former Eagle and current Lions T Halapoulivaati Vaitai]. Big V his first game was at Washington as a young player, and sometimes you learn and you gain valuable experience that way.
Obviously, it’s unfortunate with Andre and his injury, but we can, again, bring somebody in here to help. If it’s a veteran player, we’ll look that way, too, but these guys have – [G/T] Matt Pryor has played games. Don’t mistake that. He’s played games. He’s started for us and he’s played in some big situations, and so we’re going to lean on that. At some point we’ve got to trust our players, right, and as coaches we trust our guys.
It’s our job to coach them up and get them prepared, to help them, not only in practice but in game situations, and that’s what we’re going to do.
Q. Just wanted to piggy-back off that with Jason Peters. Obviously, you know he can play left tackle. This is an interesting time as far as evaluation coupled with preparation. Does that give you a little bit of a luxury to look at the younger players maybe a little bit longer because you can always go back to J.P.? (John McMullen)
DOUG PEDERSON: I think so. Listen, Jason Peters has played left tackle his whole career and he’s done an outstanding job. He’ll obviously go down as one of the top left tackles in this game. So it does give us a little bit of flexibility, a little bit of time to look at these young players, to look at [T] Jordan Mailata, to look at [G/T] Matt Pryor over there and [T] Jack Driscoll and some of the guys that are playing tackle for us.
I’m encouraged by that. We’re going to — it’ll be great to go up against our starters on defense, in practice this week, and continue to evaluate.
Q. I wanted to follow up about how you’re handling the quarterback room in this kind of unique time. Did you decide to have a quarterback in separate rooms in the event of COVID and with the other players, as well, what is your determination there? (Tim McManus)
DOUG PEDERSON: Yeah, good question. Those are things that I’m still considering having some ongoing conversations with [passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach] Press Taylor, with [senior offensive assistant] Rich Scangarello obviously and with [senior offensive consultant] Marty [Mornhinweg] about how we’re going to handle that room. Right now, because our protocols that are in place are working, [and] the league protocols [are working]. We haven’t divided that room up. We’re still in that room. We are practicing the social distancing in the rooms. We’re staying away from each other as much as we can there. Doing a lot of things virtually.
But it’s still an ongoing — I haven’t made a decision one way or the other if I’m going to quarantine a quarterback during the week. Because it’s such a fine line, right. If it is a backup quarterback you’ve got to think about all the — not getting the reps during the week and getting around your teammates. There’s all kinds of things that factor into that process or that decision. Things are ongoing as it stands today.
Q. Just staying with the quarterbacks, how much have you seen, if you have seen improvement — not necessarily improvement but the maturation of the leadership skills of QB Carson Wentz develop over this past month since camp began? Can you put that into words? (Nick Fierro)
DOUG PEDERSON: You know what, he’s really come in and really embraced this football team, embraced this opportunity, and really even embraced this opportunity with the social injustice, with bridging the gap between himself and his Black teammates, and that’s all part of being a leader, and he’s really done an outstanding job there. I see him at practice wrapping his arm around some of the young players and talking to them about football and probably other things. I’m not in those conversations but I do see him talking to those young players, and that’s so encouraging to me, to have your leader of your football team going into his fifth year, obviously, but embracing that and leading this football team like we all know he can.
Q. We haven’t seen T Lane Johnson since I think last Saturday. Is he still day-to-day or is there any concern he won’t be good to go for week one? (Jimmy Kempski)
DOUG PEDERSON: No, he’s doing fine. He’s still day-to-day.
Q. Getting back to what we were talking about initially about the conversations in the team about what’s going on right now, the players we spoke to the other day said that you had talked to them about your experience and that you had a lot to learn when you first got to college and then to the NFL about these things, that your upbringing maybe didn’t prepare you for this situation you were in. Could you tell us a little bit about that? And also, do you think the league has changed a lot even since you were playing in regard to racial attitudes and situations? (Les Bowen)
DOUG PEDERSON: Obviously this answer is probably more for a one-on-one sit-down face-to-face interview, but obviously my upbringing, I didn’t have many Black families in my community, in my high school. I grew up primarily in a white community, and it wasn’t until I really went to college that I was around Black athletes and their families, and I told my teams, I don’t understand where a lot of these players — just where they grew up and some of the life struggles that they’ve gone through at early ages, most of these players.
So for me, and like I told the guys the other day, it’s like, some of my dearest friends obviously were my teammates and my Black teammates and still stay in touch with those guys today, whether it was college or my playing days in the NFL, and just getting to know them and understand them and kind of hear a little bit about their stories and where they come from and their upbringing and the cities they grew up in.
So for me it’s about that. It’s about learning that culture and that lifestyle which was different for me. And now being in this role as the head football coach, and quite frankly I think the role has changed, because now I’m — I am the head coach and dealing with football but also we’re dealing with life issues and life struggles that a lot of our players go through on a daily basis. So it’s more than football. So for me it’s about listening to them and trying to understand them more and to have a clearer picture as to what they go through when they leave this building.
[S] Rodney McLeod said it best when he said last week that he can pull that Eagles jersey off or that helmet off and he’s a Black man in our society, in our community, and things are different. These are things I’m understanding more and more from our teammates and from our players.
Getting to the second part of your question, I do think the league is different now than when I played. Players obviously have a bigger impact today. I think their platforms are bigger today. They need to use that in a positive way today and try to promote and create healthy change in our communities, in our society, and hopefully in our country and our world. And so I think from that — because social media is so great, and a lot of these guys use social media in such a positive way, as I said, to help facilitate change.
For me it’s about supporting them and being there for them and learning everything I can.
Q. Have you talked to any of your coaching brethren about everything that’s going on, not just inside the building but outside across the league and have you discussed anything you can do as head coaches in order to go ahead and shine a light on this stuff? (Chris Franklin)
DOUG PEDERSON: Yeah, I have, and I’ll keep a lot of it private, obviously, but I have reached out and talked to a few coaching colleagues around the league, just to kind of get a sense and a gauge of, one, what are they doing and how are they doing things with their teams.
But I think it has to be a collaborative effort. I think the coaches have to be united. I think the coaches have to support players, and that’s the one message that I’m hearing from the guys that I’ve talked to is how much they support their players during times like this.
I guess even in this pandemic, too, with COVID, we’re having to protect the players but learning how to protect our families, too, when we go home, and being able to educate them.
There’s a lot going on right now for head coaches in the National Football League, and it’s not just about trying to get the roster to 53. It’s social issues. It’s pandemic issues. A lot of these teams are getting ready to travel for road games and things — we’re going to kind of get out of our bubble just a little bit with the season creeping up on us, so we’re dealing with a lot of things.
But the majority that I’ve talked to are in support of their players, and we’re trying to figure this thing out together.