Eagles right guard Brandon Brooks is navigating his sixth NFL season. He’s used to preparing for Thursday night games. By this point, as the Birds approach their Thursday visit to the Carolina Panthers, playing in the middle of the week must be pretty much OK with Brooks, right?
“Hell no. You come off three days of rest. How is that good at all for your body?” Brooks, 28, said this week. “I don’t understand – well, I do understand why they do it. Just from the health of players standpoint, it’s unreal. I’ve never liked Thursday games, never will. It’s all about profits, man. That’s what it is.”
Getting ready to play again so quickly involves “extra cold tub, extra Gatorade, stuff like that,” Brooks said. “Is it really going to help that much? Probably not. … You’re not going to feel how you would on Sunday.”
Brooks said he watches more film than usual, because he won’t get the feel for Carolina’s defense he would get from the scout team in practice in a normal week.
Eagles coach Doug Pederson said there isn’t time for as much opponent-specific game planning. Although there are staffers who do advance work on every opponent the week before the game, there’s a limit to what you can get across to the team in one real day of practice (Tuesday) and a couple of film sessions.
“Having been on both sides as a player and as a coach now … it’s all about the players,” Pederson said Wednesday. “You have a short couple of days, and you can’t prepare and do the things like you would on a normal week. But it’s about the players and how healthy and rested can I get the players … making sure that they’re doing and I’m doing everything in their behalf to make sure they’re fresh for Thursday night.”
Special teams standout and linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill said he embraces the challenge.
“The biggest thing is getting your body back and recuperated and just feeling normal again,” Grugier-Hill said. “It’s definitely possible; you just have to take a little extra time out of your day, maybe double down on some treatments and rehabs and stuff.
“I like them, because it’s the spotlight – big Thursday night game, get the color rush, [uniforms] have a little fun. I like Monday night games, I like the big-time games.”
And though the official line this week was that the only thing on the players’ minds is Carolina, the fact is, after Thursday, the Eagles don’t play again until they host Washington in 11 days – Monday night, Oct. 23.
“That’s big time, having that break. It’s almost like us having two byes,” Grugier-Hill said. (The real bye arrives after the Nov. 5 Denver game.) “It’s going to give us a good chance to rest our bodies up and get going again.”
Linebacker Nigel Bradham also was mindful of the coming reward.
“That’ll be a great feeling, especially when you’re 5-1, to be sitting on over the weekend, and enjoying your time with your family. That’s definitely our goal. Now we’ve got to go out and make it happen,” Bradham said.
Bradham said he tries to simplify the preparation by referencing games he’s played against teams with schemes similar to the Thursday opponent — a tough task this week, because there aren’t any other Cam Newtons.
Physically, Bradham said, “you just gotta try to double up on everything, as far as massages, hot tub, cold tub, accupuncture.”
Safety Malcolm Jenkins said this year’s Thursday game is tougher to prepare for than last season’s December matchup with the Giants.
“That’s a divisional opponent, you play them twice, you’ve got years of notes on ’em,” Jenkins said. “This is an opponent that does so much offensively that you’re not necessarily familiar with. … It definitely makes it tough. We’re going to have our hands full over the next couple days, trying to get as much film study in as we can.”
Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz echoed Bradham’s point about similar opponents.
“In some ways it was good to have some of the Kansas City stuff that we had to prepare against. It’s not the same offense, but there are some similarities as far as jet sweeps and shovel passes and things like that,” Schwartz said. “Every short week there’s going to be challenges.”
If you play a position that requires a lot of study, or if you’re the kind of player who really enjoys the prep work, Thursday games are difficult. But defensive tackle Tim Jernigan pretty much has the same job every week – stuff the run, get after the quarterback. And Jernigan said he’d rather play football than practice it.
“I think guys are ready. I enjoy watching Thursday night football, and I enjoy playing in it, too,” he said. “When you go out on that field and it’s time to play, man, that’s what you get paid to do. That’s why you’re here. … You have to be ready.”
Birdseed: Lane Johnson (concussion) did not make the trip. … The Eagles took defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (calf) and running back Wendell Smallwood (knee) with them to Charlotte. Doug Pederson said both are “questionable” and will be game-time decisions, though Smallwood hasn’t practiced since his knee swelled up following the Chargers game. … Also officially questionable but expected to play are defensive tackle Beau Allen (foot), defensive end Chris Long (foot), defensive tackle Destiny Vaeao (wrist), and corner Jaylen Watkins (hamstring).