Eagles now debate rest vs. reps
PHILADELPHIA — Before they tackle rest vs. rust, the Philadelphia Eagles have to approach rest vs. reps.
With the NFC’s No. 1 seed secured, the Eagles (13-2) have nothing to gain against the Dallas Cowboys (8-7) on Sunday other than playing for a franchise-record 14th win.
But coach Doug Pederson can’t really rest all his starters because there aren’t enough players on the rosters.
Banged-up veterans such as defensive end Brandon Graham and left guard Stefen Wisniewski will get extra time off before the Eagles host a playoff game on Jan. 13 or 14. Several others have to play some.
“You’re only limited to 46 (players), and you can only put seven guys down,” Pederson said Tuesday. “If you do the math, some of your starters are going to have to play.”
Starting quarterback Nick Foles sure seemed as if he needs more time working with the receivers following a shaky performance in a 19-10 win over Oakland on Christmas night.
Foles has only played nine quarters since Carson Wentz tore his left ACL. He was sharp off the bench against the Los Angeles Rams two weeks ago and tossed four touchdown passes with no interceptions in a 34-29 win over the Giants in his first start.
On a cold, windy night against the Raiders, Foles was 19 of 38 for 163 yards with one TD and one pick. He didn’t complete any passes to Alshon Jeffery and most of his passes were short.
“I’ve got to play and get him as many reps as he can, and then be smart about it,” Pederson said.
“We have a lot of football left. Our season really is just beginning, quite honestly. But we’ll be smart and make good decisions there as a coaching staff, talk to the coordinators about playtime and all that. We’ll have a good plan later in the week.”
Foles isn’t lobbying for rest or playing against the Cowboys.
“There’s good and bad, you can look at it either way,” he said. “That’s where I trust the coaches. I’m going to continue to improve, continue to work and I trust whatever they say.”
Backup Nate Sudfeld hasn’t thrown a pass in the NFL so it’s wise for Philadelphia to give him some experience and protect Foles from an injury. The Eagles don’t have a third quarterback on the roster or practice squad.
“You could bring a third guy in, but what’s his chances of playing?” Pederson said. “Is he going to get in the game and hand the ball off? That’s about all he’s going to be able to do at this time and juncture of the season. We’ll have those conversations, continue to have them. Right now, we’re right where we need to be.”
The Eagles nearly lost Sudfeld when the Indianapolis Colts wanted to sign him off the practice squad so they promoted him to the roster in November. The move obviously paid off or they would’ve scrambled to find a backup when Wentz got hurt.
“I feel very confident and comfortable with Nate,” offensive coordinator Frank Reich said.
“Having been around the position a long time and getting a sense for how guys see and think and understand the game and how they process it, seeing them work on the field, I just have a high degree of confidence. Ultimately he hasn’t done it in a game, so that part is still to be determined. But as much confidence as you have in a guy, he mentally gets it.”