June 14, 2017
Last summer, in the first year under Doug Pederson, Eagles training camp featured something we hadn't seen in a while, certainly not under his predecessor, Chip Kelly: live hitting.
But following a string of injuries during the first week that included Jordan Matthews and Mychal Kendricks, Pederson opted to have his players stop and limited them to hitting without tackling to the ground. He said at the time that it was not a reaction to the injuries, but rather to the overall grind of those first few practices.
"I just have to look at the overall health of the football team," Pederson said at the time. "It's not about getting somebody hurt, but it's about protecting the guys out here. They have been doing an excellent job. These last six days have been tough. I wanted it to be tough on them."
This year, Pederson is instead opting for somewhat of a happy medium – there will be live hitting, but only on a few predetermined days.
"I'm going in with the same mentality. We're going to stay aggressive and we're going to hit and we’ll put the pads on," he said on Wednesday. "I think off the top of my head, I believe we have like three live practice days that we'll tackle and take guys to the ground. Other than that, everything will be what we call ‘thud’ or in pads.
"But I think it's important that we do that and maintain that aggressiveness and that willingness to hit, and so we'll continue that this year."
Whether or not you believe that the full-contact practices contributed to those injuries last summer, this is a good move by Pederson. Essentially, he's getting the best of both worlds.
First, he's lowering the chances someone gets hurt while ensuring he has the opportunity to evaluate guys based on how they perform in more game-like conditions. And by spreading out those practices (assuming that's the plan), he can avoid the wear and tear that concerned him enough to stop live hitting for the remainder of camp, but still make sure that his players are prepared for what they're going to face when games start.
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