Super Bowl 52 Preview - Eagles Team Report
By Kimberly A. Martin (Pro Football Writers of America)
Here is the Super Bowl LII pool report for the Philadelphia Eagles, filed by Kimberly A. Martin of the Washington Post.
Eagles Practice & Team Report - February 3, 2018
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Philadelphia Eagles put the finishing touches on their week of preparation with an afternoon walkthrough Saturday at U.S. Bank Stadium, the venue for Super Bowl LII.
After posing for a team picture, players went to work fine-tuning the gameplan for the New England Patriots. After quick-tempo practices the past three days at the University of Minnesota, the Eagles spent about a half hour going through their light-paced pregame walkthrough.
Coach Doug Pederson said "probably three" players in all dealt with varying symptoms of an illness this week, including defensive tackle Tim Jernigan (who missed the first two practices of the week), cornerback Ronald Darby and wide receiver Nelson Agholor.
By Saturday, however, all three players were feeling fine, Pederson said. He also noted that it's routine for players to be given I.V. fluids.
As planned, Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre addressed the Eagles at their team hotel before the walkthrough. Pederson, Favre's former backup in Green Bay, chose to keep the details of the meeting and Favre's message private, but indicated players were listening with rapt attention.
While Saturday's session lacked the intensity of a normal weekday practice, it gave the Eagles a chance to get the "lay of the land," familiarize themselves with the locker rooms and the stadium and "take it all in. Soak it in," Pederson said.
Now, they're only 24 hours away from the biggest game of the season. Finally, the moment it's starting to feel real for the players.
"It puts it into perspective now," Pederson said of being inside U.S. Bank Stadium for the first time this week. "I think they can see it, when you're on this field and you see everything around the stadium, you can feel it. It puts it all right there for us."
Eagles Practice & Team Report - February 2, 2018
MINNEAPOLIS -- The Philadelphia Eagles were fully accounted for on Friday, the final full practice of the week before Super Bowl LII, head coach Doug Pederson said.
That includes veteran defensive tackle Tim Jernigan, who was a full participant in his first practice after being sequestered with an illness all week. Running back Jay Ajayi (ankle) practiced fully, as did cornerback Ronald Darby (illness), defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (calf) and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring).
It was a typical Friday practice for the Eagles, complete with their standard emphasis on red-zone drills, plus a final review of first-, second- and third-down, short-yardage and goal-line drills. "That's kind of the main focus every Friday," Pederson explained, "Just to tie-up any loose ends maybe from the week."
So how does Pederson know he's done enough to prepare his team for the defending champion New England Patriots?
"I've been around these guys all year and I can tell by the way they practice -- the speed, the tempo, assignment sound, the energy level. Things like that lead me to believe because I've seen it all season," he said. "Now, that doesn't tell you how they're going to play. But it just tells you that they're prepared and ready to go into this game."
The final whistle blew at 1:50 p.m., roughly an hour and 20 minutes after the afternoon session began. Following the team's normal post-practice stretch, Pederson stood near midfield, surrounded by his players, coaches and front office executives, and delivered a lengthy speech. With it being the last full practice of the week, and the team's final Friday practice of the season, Pederson felt compelled to have "a private little moment." He stressed the importance of seizing the moment and also having fun.
"Play loose, have fun, enjoy the moment," he said, relaying what he told his players.
"These opportunities, as you know, don't come around every year. Also, make sure just to reflect on this season, reflect on the journey that got us here. But just play for one another, have fun and enjoy it."
The next speech reserved for the Eagles will be a special one as well. Pederson's former Green Bay Packers quarterback and Hall of Famer Brett Favre is scheduled to land in Minneapolis on Friday, according to Pederson, and will address the team Saturday morning.
After three days of practicing at the University of Minnesota's Gibson-Nagurski Complex, the Eagles will hold a 30-minute walkthrough on Saturday at U.S. Bank Stadium, the site of Super Bowl LII.
Eagles Practice & Team Report - February 1, 2018
MINNEAPOLIS -- This time there were no practice stoppages for the Philadelphia Eagles, just quick-tempo plays and plenty of players flying around. Their second practice of Super Bowl week was more of "a situational day" that focused primarily on short-yardage, goal-line and third-down drills over an afternoon period that lasted almost one hour and 45 minutes.
Running back Jay Ajayi was a full practice participant Thursday, but was purposely limited in some team drills to give his lower body a rest. With Ajayi hampered by a sore ankle of late, Pederson said the rest was just precautionary, adding: "He’ll be fine for the game."
Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (calf), cornerback Ronald Darby (illness) and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring) all practiced fully. However, starting defensive tackle Tim Jernigan (illness) again was absent. As of now, the plan is to keep him as hydrated as possible, but the expectation is that Jernigan will play Sunday against the Patriots, even if he’s unable to practice all week.
"Because of the position and he’s one of our veteran guys, I do feel comfortable that he’ll be ready," Pederson said.
Defensive end Vinny Curry was briefly looked at by team trainers toward the end of practice after he got several fingers on his left hand caught in another player’s face mask during a team drill. But Pederson assured, "He’s fine. He shook it off. He’s good." The coach said his message during Wednesday’s team meeting centered on eliminating mistakes, especially "pre-snap stuff," and staying focused. And the Eagles heeded his instruction. For the second straight day, quarterback Nick Foles was in a groove, firing off intermediate passes and deep balls downfield with confidence and ease. "Nick was really sharp again. Real sharp," the coach said. "He was accurate with his passes, smart in the run game. And (backup) Nate (Sudfeld) just seems to sort of always impress. Every day he comes out here, he’s ready to work. I know it’s service team stuff, but he makes our defense work."
Although Darby missed Thursday’s media availability, he and fellow cornerback Jalen Mills were relentless in coverage, chasing down receivers and batting down passes with gameday-level intensity. "They really focused in on their assignments," Pederson said. "They’ve got a tough task with the Patriots, some of these small, quicker receivers. But they both had really good days today."
All in all, it was the type of session Pederson expected to see with only three days until the biggest game of their season. "Had a heck of a practice today," he said. "Guys were flying around. Definitely picked it up. We had three days off before we got on the field (Wednesday), so this is what typically we would see in practice."
Along with NBC’s Super Bowl LII broadcast crew (Michelle Tafoya, Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth), Pederson’s former head coach Mike Holmgren also was in attendance. Holmgren, who will contribute commentary on Westwood One radio throughout Sunday’s broadcast, won Super Bowl XXXI with Brett Favre as his starting quarterback and Pederson as his backup in Green Bay. "I talked to him yesterday and I saw him at practice today. My old coach," Pederson beamed. "It’s fun to have him out there."
Eagles Practice & Team Report - January 31, 2018
MINNEAPOLIS - Bass blared from the speakers as the Philadelphia Eagles began their week of practice Wednesday afternoon inside the Gibson-Nagurski Complex at the University of Minnesota.
Doug Pederson's team looked relaxed, but focused as players returned to work for the first time during Super Bowl week. Quarterback Nick Foles delivered quick, crisp passes to Nelson Agholor and Torrey Smith to start the session, and from there, the offense rolled. Everything was humming for the first half of practice, even the Eagles' D.J., who managed to seamlessly transition from Nirvana's "Smells Like Teen Spirit" into James Brown's "Living in America." Then, right at 3 p.m., the music died down, the scissor lift used to record practice lowered to the ground, and players and coaches began filing out of the facility.
For 30 minutes, the room fell almost silent as the Eagles simulated a halftime break, save for the intermittent sounds of footballs being tossed around by a few staffers, injured starting quarterback Carson Wentz and executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman. All that was missing was the boy-band falsetto of Justin Timberlake, the Super Bowl LII halftime performer.
"I think it's important that the guys get it in their minds how much time that is," Pedersen explained after practice, which ended later than expected due to the midway break. "We're normally working on 13-, 14-minute halftime and now it's twice as long and guys' bodies cool down. So I want to make sure they understand that we have to go in, we've got to stay focused, but at the same time we can refuel and kind of recharge. Coaches can coach and then get our guys warmed back up to come back out. So on Sunday they know exactly what they can do."
The halftime simulation was a one-time thing reserved for the first practice of the week. And it served its purpose. The second half of practice was anything but smooth. "I thought it was a little sloppy, which is good, because this is something that I can address in our meetings tonight," Pederson said. "Again, it's another teachable moment so we're not doing it on Sunday."
The Eagles conducted practice as though it was a regular Wednesday at their NovaCare Complex, focusing on first- and second-down situations primarily. "This is just like we were back in Philly," the coach said.
Pederson's squad is all but healthy, with running back Jay Ajayi (ankle), defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (calf) and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring) all full participants. Defensive tackle Tim Jernigan, however, missed their morning media availability and practice due to an illness, Pederson said, adding that the team doesn't believe Jernigan has the flu but rather "a 24-hour deal."
Jernigan did not practice on Friday in Philly before making the trip to Minnesota and it's unclear if he'll be healthy enough to practice Thursday.
The Eagles will return on Thursday to the Gibson-Nagurski Complex where they'll hold their second practice. Peterson, who turned 50 on Wednesday, said players won't be in pads at all this week.
"We're in the last week of the season," he said, flashing a smile. "And if they don't know how to hit by now, you know?"
With only four more days to go until Super Bowl LII, it's business as usual for the Eagles. But players and coaches took time to sing "Happy Birthday" to Pederson before they broke down the huddle at the end of practice.
Asked if he has any plans for his special day, Pedersen said: "I am a big ice cream guy. But no, we're going to be stuck in meetings tonight, so there's no rest for the weary. We're going to keep grinding and cranking as coaches tonight."
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