Updated: Wednesday, January 3, 2018, 7:58 AM
Good morning, Eagles fans. The Eagles return to practice at 12:45 p.m. The players will speak to reporters after practice, with quarterback Nick Foles holding a news conference during the 2 p.m. hour.
Practices will be physical this week. There will be one padded practice and there might be one next week, too. The Eagles have a player leadership council, and the players on the council approached Doug Pederson and asked for the physical practices. The Eagles have had lighter sessions during the past two weeks to rest their players. “This is something that the players want,” Pederson said. “It’s not a punishment thing; it’s not coming directly from me. It’s what the players want. I listen to my guys. I think they understand that there is a sense of physicality that we have to get back to. I’m not saying we’re not there because obviously football is a physical game, but I think there is a sense over the course of a few weeks when you’ve been in shells, pad level begins to rise, and intensity sometimes can be minimized.” There won’t be tackling — it won’t resemble training camp — but the Eagles hope it sets the tone for the postseason. Three players will not participate in practice: Defensive end Brandon Graham, left tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai, and running back Jay Ajayi. Graham has an ankle injury. Vaitai has been dealing with a knee injury, and Ajayi had previous knee problems in Miami. The Eagles are being cautious with those players. At this point, it doesn’t appear any players on the active roster have serious injuries that will keep them out next week. There’s no quarterback controversy. Nick Foles is the starter, Nate Sudfeld is the backup. Pederson laughed when asked if Foles is still the starter for the playoff game. When asked if he’d consider a quarterback change if Foles struggles again, Pederson said it’s hard to answer until he’s in that situation. “It’s a one-game season,” Pederson said. “It’s hard to be in desperation mode, but if you are in that mode, who knows? I do know this: it’s not about one guy; it’s about 11 on offense, defense, and special teams. A lot of contributing factors go into winning a game.” Sidney Jones made his Eagles debut on Sunday, but it’s not yet known if he’ll be active for next week’s postseason game. Pederson wants to see how Jones does in practice during the next two weeks. “We have to see how he gets through this week and see the defensive game plan and the opponent we’re playing and all that,” Pederson said. It will be a game-time decision. It could come down to Jones or Rasul Douglas at cornerback.
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— Zach Berman
Do you think Barner as a returner gets challenged/changed for the playoffs? He’s scared me multiple times with out any recent big plays I can remember maybe Smallwood or clement?
I don’t think the Eagles make a change at returner. Once they lost Darren Sproles, they didn’t really have a natural replacement on the roster. That’s why they pursued Kenjon Barner. Corey Clement, Nelson Agholor, and Wendell Smallwood are kick return candidates, but Smallwood is inactive for games and Agholor has a big role in the offense. Clement is already back there with Barner. On punts, the Eagles could go to Torrey Smith, but I haven’t heard anything about a switch. The Eagles haven’t benefited from big plays in the return game, although they can’t afford negative plays. As long as Barner catches the punts and kickoffs without issue, I think he keeps the job until the end of the season.