The Eagles took to Lincoln Financial Field for the first time this season Sunday, practicing in front of fans in the first of what will be two open practices at the Linc.
Answering questions Sunday, head coach Doug Pederson was already well aware of the atmosphere the change in locale created.
“Yeah, I stood over there and watched the players get on the buses, and you could kind of see they’re excited,” he said. “They’re excited about being here today.”
It was the fans’ first chance to see rookie Carson Wentz in his new home, and his first chance to experience a not-quite-capacity Linc.
“This will be good for all of them, but it will be good for him [Wentz] to experience the fans and experience the stadium for the first time,” said Pederson, “And again, this is a valuable part of training camp, especially with the young players, to expose them to the stadium for the first time before the first preseason game.”
Judging from reactions, fans and the coach aren’t having any cases of buyer’s remorse with Wentz.
“Some of the plays he’s made yesterday and through rookie camp, some of the — there’s a couple of ‘wow’ plays that you just go, ‘That’s the kind of quarterback that you know you have.’ He’s right on track, where we want him to be. He’s competing every day. He’s learning in the room. He’s asking great questions in the room.” said Pederson, before reminding listeners of the added value Chase Daniel brings to the roster, “Chase has done a great job with him and learning as well with [QB] Sam [Bradford]. I like where he’s at right now.”
Nolan Carroll returned to practice Sunday after leaving the field Saturday with soreness in the leg where he suffered a season-ending injury last year.Carroll’s quick return fits Pederson’s reaction to the possibility of holding him back: “We’ll monitor it more than hold him back, if that answers your question. You know, he’s one that doesn’t want to come out, obviously, but at the same time, we’ve got to make sure that he is healthy when he’s on the field.”
While the same player, second year pro Eric Rowe, still stepped into the lineup for Carroll, the Eagles hope they have improved their cornerback depth this off-season.The additions of Leodis McKelvin and Ron Brooks (not to mention safety Rodney McLeod) should help to shore up the back of a defense that fell apart in the second half of 2015.
Pederson was confident Brooks could handle being asked to play inside and outside cornerback, while recognizing the unique demands the nickel position has of a player.
“That inside corner nickel spot is a — it’s a different animal, obviously, than being on the outside on the perimeter,” Pederson said. “There’s a lot more – the physical nature of that spot, as well, being able to tackle and take on blockers. He’s done a nice job there.”