The Eagles ended their virtual offseason on Monday even though the NFL has allowed teams to continue having videoconference training through June 26.
But Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said Tuesday he has been satisfied with what the team has been able to accomplish.
Pederson also used the sessions to bring in guest speakers from around sports, including former Sixers great Charles Barkley, Golden State Warriors coach Steve Kerr and former Chicago Bulls and Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson.
He also had Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout, a self-proclaimed lifelong Eagles fan, and former pitcher C.C. Sabathia speak to the team.
“I think the message was resounding to the young players on how to be a professional, how to handle the spotlight and what they’ve overcome in their careers to have success,” Pederson said.
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But the Eagles do have some pressing issues with the start of training camp currently scheduled for late July, with the coronavirus pandemic affecting so much throughout the NFL. Here are some of the biggest hurdles for the team:
Who’s replacing Brandon Brooks?
The Eagles were stunned Monday when Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks tore his left Achilles while working out at the NovaCare Complex. Brooks is expected to miss the entire season.
It’s a huge loss for a team that allowed left tackle Jason Peters to become a free agent (there’s a chance he could return) while backup tackle and guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai signed with the Detroit Lions.
Brooks was still rehabing from a dislocated shoulder suffered in the regular-season finale that required surgery. The previous January, Brooks tore his right Achilles and remarkably made it back in time for the 2019 season opener.
“My heart sunk when I got the news about Brandon’s injury,” Pederson said. “Obviously, we feel for him to have to go through this again.”
Pederson said it’s too soon to divulge the plans. But the Eagles do have Matt Pryor, who replaced Brooks for the playoff game last season, and second-year players Nate Herbig and Sua Opeta, who can play guard next to right tackle Lane Johnson.
But a free agent is also possible, as is bringing back Peters and trying him at left guard and possibly moving Isaac Seumalo to right guard.
“We’re going to take a look at a lot of different scenarios, different possibilities,” Pederson said. “We’ve got some time before training camp to sort these things out.”
Is Alshon Jeffery in the plans?
Pederson has kept the company line about wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who is rehabbing after having foot surgery last December. Pederson said that Jeffery “has done extremely well this offseason with his rehab,” and fits into the plans for the coming season.
Pederson also commended Jeffery for helping the younger receivers during the virtual meetings.
But the Eagles did add four receivers during the draft weekend, including a trade for Marquise Goodwin, and they have DeSean Jackson coming back healthy. So they could still move on from Jeffery, who’s 30 and coming off an injury-filled and disappointing season.
Also, there are no guarantees that Jeffery will be healthy enough to start the season.
“He’s a big part of the process moving forward,” Pederson said. “He’s a great leader and he’s going to be able to help the young players coming along.”
Expect the Linc to be used, too
Because of COVID-19, teams will have to reconfigure locker room spacing and facility use to make sure players and coaches are socially distanced once training camp starts.
Pederson said the team could use Lincoln Financial Field, perhaps for extra locker room space and training rooms, in addition to their practice facility across the street at the NovaCare Complex.
“We’re in the process of taking a look at a lot of scenarios … to be able to handle the numbers we have in training camp from a player perspective,” Pederson said about the 90-man roster heading into camp. “It’s going to look different, it’ll feel different. At the same time, we’re going to embrace it, we’re going to make the most of it.”
Learning delayed for rookies Reagor, Hurts?
The lack of what Pederson called “grass time” could have an impact especially on first-round draft pick Jalen Reagor, a wide receiver, and second-round pick Jalen Hurts, a quarterback.
Pederson said Reagor at first will learn Jackson’s position, likely meaning that he’ll be a backup to start. But Pederson also mentioned that Reagor could work in the slot as well, if he shows that he can quickly pick up the offense.
As for Hurts, Pederson said quarterbacks coach Press Taylor has given him huddle situations, making Hurts call out plays to demonstrate an understanding of the concepts. He said Hurts has done well with that.
When asked about Hurts, Pederson said: “You take things slower, just with young players, so you can understand the terminology … His growth, from a mental standpoint from the beginning of the offseason, to now, has been very good, (with) his ability to recall plays and recite plays.”
Eagles talking through player protests
Some players have said they plan to kneel during the national anthem to protest racial injustices, particularly after the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 28.
“As a head football coach, we’re going to continue to have the discussions in every area, not only with social injustice, but the anthem, anything that comes up,” Pederson said. “That’s one of the things, going into my fifth year with the football team, we’ve been able to have dialogue and conversations. Nothing has been determined … and I support players who demonstrate peacefully and stand for something.”
Contact Martin Frank at email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.