Doug Pederson is taking his foot off the gas pedal a bit when it comes to practice.
Instead of a full practice on Wednesday, which is typical during the season, the Eagles head coach just put his team through a walkthrough as they prepare to host the Houston Texans on Sunday at 1 p.m.
“I need to make sure our guys are as fresh as they can be this time of the year going into the game,” said Pederson. “I just wanted to make sure that we have more of the mental preparation down today. That's why I backed off just a little bit and we'll do two extended, longer walkthroughs than we've done in the past. We can still get a lot of work done. We'll still have our meeting schedule and all that. Still want to make sure our guys are fresh for Sunday.”
Last year, the Eagles’ leadership council went to Pederson during the playoff bye week and requested to have a couple of padded practices. The team had not played very well to close the season and they wanted to ramp up the intensity a bit.
“I think they understand that there is a sense of physicality that we have to get back to,” said Pederson at the time. “There’s a sense over the course of a few weeks when you’ve been in shells, pad level starts to rise. Intensity sometimes can be minimized. You get back in pads, and it refocused the guys a little bit.”
This year, the situation is different.
The Eagles were coming off back-to-back weeks where they had logged plenty of air miles, first going to Dallas, returning home, then flying to Los Angeles and back the following week.
Pederson also cited the fact that he wanted to allow his team some extra rest from a full-scale practice after the defense was on the field for 99 snaps against the Cowboys.
“I think it’s also smart,” said quarterback Nick Foles. “I applaud Doug for that. The most important thing is for our guys to have a lot of energy and feel good on game day. We’ll have two great practices this week, go out there ready to roll and by Sunday we’ll be ready.”
Fletcher Cox paid a visit to the blue medical tent on the sideline during Sunday’s game with the Rams. It was a short stay.
Cox had his hip examined but returned to the game and continued throwing around L.A. offensive linemen like ragdolls. Pederson called it the best game Cox played this season. It was reported on the NBC telecast that Pederson challenged Cox prior to the game to be great.
Cox said on Wednesday it is something the coach does all the time before games.
Pederson said: “It's something that when I get a chance to talk to players like that, they understand. They understand the role and the magnitude of a game that we were in the other night. Fletcher has been an impact to this defense and this team all season.
“For me, I think it's just to reiterate confidence in Fletch; that listen, you just go out and do your job and good things are going to happen, and he did, and he had a really, really dominate football game and put a lot of pressure on (Rams QB Jared) Goff and gosh, probably his best game this season.”
Two days later, Cox earned his fourth bid to the Pro Bowl.
As usual, Cox sloughed off the honor, preferring to focus on the team.
“Everybody knows at the end of the day it’s not about me, it’s about the guys in this locker room who push me, continue to push me to get to where I am now,” he said.
One thing Cox was proud of was that he has now been voted into the Pro Bowl more than any other defensive tackle in franchise history and trails only Hall of Famer Reggie White for most appearances by a defensive lineman in Eagles lore. White made it to seven with the Eagles.
“It’s nice to be talked in the same sentence as that dude,” said Cox. “It’s very humbling. I just want to keep stacking them, go out have fun and enjoy my teammates. The main focus right now is to get a win on Sunday. The most important stat to me is the win-loss column.”
Pederson confirmed that safety Chris Maragos needed a second surgery on the same knee he had surgery in fall of 2017 to repair torn PCL and ACL ligaments.
“I'm not going to get into the details of all that with Chris, but I will say this, it's been unfortunate for him,” said the coach. “He's been battling this the whole season and now obviously he's going to miss and all that. But Chris has been such an instrumental part of this team. Kept him involved with the defense with special teams. He's such an inspiration to a lot of the guys and his leadership. It is unfortunate. But great person, great human being and more of a good teammate to the guys.”
It is very possible that Maragos will never play again.