June 03, 2016
So far this offseason, something -- or rather someone -- big has been missing at Eagles practice: Fletcher Cox.
The team's Pro Bowl defensive tackle, heading into the final year of his contract, has elected to skip the offseason program, which has been entirely optional to this point, should return on Monday when the workouts become mandatory.
At least, that's what first year coach Doug Pederson expects to happen.
"All indications [are that he will be here]," Pederson told reporters on Friday afternoon. "Would love to have him here. Don't know for sure. Hasn't made that official yet, but would fully expect him to be here on Monday for the mandatory physicals.
The same goes for veteran running back Darren Sproles. Although Pederson also admitted he hasn't spoken to either directly.
"I have not [spoken directly to either]," he said. "Of course with Darren, Duce [Staley] has a great relationship with him and they have stayed in touch pretty much the entire offseason, you know, just kind of keeping Darren in the loop of what we are doing offensively and on special teams, but again, we expect him to be here.
"Then on Fletcher's side, I know that Howie [Roseman] has been in touch with his agent throughout the whole process. Again, he's another one that I expect to be in town on Monday."
And what if they don't?
"Well, that’s a team issue," Pederson said when asked about the consequences, aside from the fine that is spelled out in the CBA. "I'm not going to get into what we are going to do and things like that, but we'll keep those in-house and make those decisions if need be."
But Pederson, by his own admission, hasn't been assured of anything in terms of whether or not Cox and Sproles will be at the NovaCare Complex on Monday. So does he think that just because there are now consequences ties to attendance, his two Pro Bowlers will suddenly show up for camp?
"Well, I think deep down they are going to be here," he added. "There's no indication [that they won’t be here], you know, that conversation hasn't been talked about yet. So it's a mandatory situation. It's the only mandatory aspect of the entire offseason program. So I, as the head football coach, expect both of those guys to be back and be a part of their team and be back in the locker room.
"I think it's important that they are both here."
So, it seems, that Pederson is going on good faith in believing that both players will return next week. That's very different from how the previous regime handled a somewhat similar situation last offseason with offensive lineman Evan Mathis.
And while it still remains to be seen if either shows up, the coach's confidence has to be a good sign for those worried Cox's situation could turn into a holdout that carries over into training camp.
Even if it's just the coach's gut feeling.
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