All were present and accounted for as the Eagles opened their mandatory minicamp on Tuesday.
Yes, that includes safety Malcolm Jenkins, offensive linemen Jason Peters and Lane Johnson, and receiver Alshon Jeffery. Jenkins’ appearance was somewhat surprising since it was widely reported that he would hold out of minicamp while seeing a contract that reflects his worth to the team.
“I saw him yesterday and I saw him this morning,” said head coach Doug Pederson about Jenkins. “He’s in great spirits and he’s out there. I expect him to go through the drills and see where he’s at.
“This offseason season program is voluntary. He never once said he was holding out, I don’t believe. It’s no different than Jason Peters, Lane Johnson, Alshon, these guys are veteran players, they understand what it takes to get ready. They’ve played a long time. They’ve been excellent, Pro Bowl players and I’m not worried about Malcolm or any of the guys I mentioned coming in and ready to go.”
Pederson said that having all hands on deck is valuable as the team winds down its final week together until reconvening again in late July when training camp opens. Camp is scheduled is tentatively set to open July 25 with all the players reporting at once, which is unlike previous years when rookies and first-year players arrived two or three days before veterans reported.
“I think this is the most important part of the offseason, really, when your team is together and it’s a crucial time,” said Pederson. “Again, it’s short, but at the same time, it’s where we begin to kind of build and continue building the binds and relationships that are going to carry us into the season.”
This week marks the first time the entire team will be together since the season ended in mid-January, and, yes, there have been some personnel changes.
Pederson pointed out the offensive line.
“This is the first time Big V (Halapoulivaati Vaitai) and Lane (Johnson) are going to work together on the right side,” said Pederson. “Then Isaac (Seumal), who’s been here, to again start working with JP (Jason Peters). That’s what this time is about, to build those bonds and just looking for guys to come out of it healthy.”
Pederson couldn’t put a timeline on when Brooks may be able to return from an Achilles injury he is still rehabbing. Vaitai is working at Brooks’ right guard spot for now.
As for the 37-year-old Peters, Pederson said: “Jason came in in great shape. He looks good, he feels good. I spoke with him yesterday. We’ll take care of Jason like we’ve done in the past. I think coach (offensive line coach Jeff) Stoutland does a great job of getting him the reps he needs to get and to be ready for the regular season.”
Special team coordinator Dave Fipp said on Monday that DeSean Jackson wants, and could have a role in some form as a punt returner.
Pederson was asked on Tuesday about that possibility.
“DeSean is an exceptional player and he’s special and he’s very electric, obviously, with the ball in his hands,” said Pederson. “There’s times when we can use him when maybe you need to get that one punt return that can flip a field and maybe put you in field goal position or score a touchdown at the end of the game to win. We’ll pick our spots with him, but even talking with DeSean, he’s excited for that opportunity as well.”
Pederson said he will continue to hold out rookie running back Miles Sanders. The team’s second-round draft pick in April, Sanders hasn’t practice since injuring a hamstring during rookie camp in Mid-May.
“It hurts a little bit that he’s not getting the physical rep, but I don’t want to risk him any further, so we’ll wait until camp to get him out there,” said Pederson. “He’s getting a lot of mental reps. Duce (running backs coach Staley) is grilling him and drilling him in the classroom and he’s getting a lot of mental reps on the field.”