August 06, 2021
The Philadelphia Eagles have been absolutely ravaged by injuries in each of the last four seasons, and while they have tried a number of different approaches (several medical staff changeovers, etc.) to fix the problem, little has worked.
Under Doug Pederson, training camp practices were routinely around two and half hours in duration, and sometimes approached three hours. Through the first eight practices under new head coach Nick Sirianni, practices have been notably shorter, oftentimes ending after around an hour and 15 minutes. It's also noteworthy than in the first seven practices of training camp, the Eagles had two "maintenance days" — basically, days off — for their older veteran players.
Why? So they'll be healthy for Week 1.
"All that goes down to player health and I'm not the expert in that," Sirianni said on Thursday. "So myself and our strength staff and our training staff and our doctors and Howie Roseman, we all get together and we talk about how do we keep those guys — we have so much ability on the field — how do we keep them available, right? If they are not available, that ability is worth nothing. That's just a part of the design as far as the length of practices, but when we are out here working, the standard is set very clear of how we want practice to be. We feel like we're out here and enough of what we want to be out here as far as to keep the guys healthy, but when we're out here, we're going and practicing hard."
It makes sense. When the Eagles faced Washington Week 1 last year, they were undermanned, as Lane Johnson, Miles Sanders, Javon Hargrave, and Derek Barnett didn't dress on gameday. Additionally, players like Brandon Brooks, Andre Dillard, Will Parks, and Quez Watkins were on IR or PUP. If you'll recall, they lost.
Of course, there's the question of whether the players are getting enough work in to be ready for the regular season, especially while learning new offensive and defensive schemes.
"Availability, again, first of all, player health is the first thing," Sirianni said. "The confidence is that just because they are not practicing for the amount of time, right, the three hours or whatever, two and a half hours with the walk throughs, we are full speed mentally in walk-throughs, okay, like we are still walking through, but it's full speed to the snap. We are still meaning full speed, right. We are still connecting full speed when we are in there. So it's all these things like it's just not -- practice is one piece of the puzzle and it's a big piece and there's all these other pieces of the puzzle to get ourselves ready and we are doing those, you know, just like we would any other year."
So far, the Eagles have stayed reasonably healthy, at least relative to other offseasons. Four players — DeVonta Smith (knee), Isaac Seumalo (hamstring), Davion Taylor (hamstring), and JaCoby Stevens (calf) — are listed as week-to-week, but should all be ready for the start of the regular season. There are also three players — Rodney McLeod (ACL), Landon Dickerson (ACL), and Le'Raven Clark (Achilles) — who are on the PUP from injuries suffered during the football season in December last year.
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