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August 04, 2017

Doug Pederson working to strike balance at Eagles camp

Eagles NFL

Coming off the most grueling, physical session of Eagles training camp on Thursday, the Birds went through a “10-10-10” practice on Friday, which is a lighter workout where the players ditch the pads and work on all three phases at a more deliberate pace.

And towards the end of practice, the Eagles even had a little fun. Doug Pederson offered the team a reward (which the coach wouldn’t elaborate on, but players indicated it had something to do with shortening a meeting later in the day) if two of his players could successfully field punts.

Those two players happened to be his two star linemen: Jason Peters and Fletcher Cox. A bit larger than the average NFL punt returner, both Peters and Cox were successful and their teammates went crazy.

“It’s been about 10-plus years,” Peters said of the last time he fielded a kick.

“I’m going right down the pipe,” Cox said of his returning strategy.

The transition from Chip Kelly to Pederson as Eagles coach has come in many different forms. There are obvious on-field changes like more called draw plays, a 4-3 defensive scheme, and the offense’s aggressive approach on fourth down. But the head coach’s fingerprints are also all over a practice itinerary, and Pederson has brought back the Andy Reid philosophy of more hitting in training camp.

It’s also clear that the second-year coach is trying to strike a balance between physical football and more lighthearted moments like the linemen catching punts or Caleb Sturgis trying to hit pressure field goals for a reward.

“That’s the beauty of being a head coach sometimes,” Pederson said. “Sometimes their voices can be heard, so we had a little friendly wager there and they’ll be rewarded later.”

Nelson Agholor’s bowling ball celebration on Thursday is the best example of the Eagles offense celebrating close to every touchdown in some form of another, which has been noticeable. Players have said that the “have fun” mandate came directly from Pederson.

In terms of keeping the Eagles players fresh after a hot and physical practice, it sounds like they appreciated the balance that Pederson is trying to find.

“You got to have fun because we just come off three hard, grind, grind days,” Cox said. “Today was a 10-10-10 practice, which we really appreciate [from] Coach Pederson. Kind of slow things down a little bit, and kind of get our legs back under us. We got a day off tomorrow, but we got to come back Sunday and show coach that we appreciate the way he took care of all of us today.”

Like his team, Pederson is a work in progress. Establishing a culture is just one part of trying to make it back to the playoffs for the first time since 2013, but at the very least, the Eagles head coach appears to have a plan on how to accomplish just that.

“We worked out a couple of things,” Pederson said. “The guys have been working extremely hard and I want to make sure that they're rewarded for that.”

Follow Rich on Twitter: @rich_hofmann

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