The Eagles brought live tackling back to their training camp practices this summer after going without them during Chip Kelly’s three years as head coach with new coach Doug Pederson saying they weren’t going to “shy away from the tackling or shy away from the hitting” because of the risk of injury.
Last Friday’s practice featured tackling and it ended with wide receiver Jordan Matthews on the shelf for a while because of a knee injury, defensive end Marcus Smith in the concussion protocol and tight end Zach Ertz lamenting low hits by younger members of the team like the one that injured Matthews. It doesn’t sound like Ertz is going to have to worry about that anymore.
The Eagles were in pads on Monday, but there wasn’t any tackling and Pederson said he doesn’t think there will be any more in the team’s practices.
“Padded days, no,” Pederson said in comments distributed by the team. “The padded days are not over. The live tackling drills will probably be over. But we will continue to practice in pads throughout training camp and into the regular season.”
Pederson was then asked if last week’s injuries led to the change in his thoughts about having live tackling in practice.
“No, I’m not concerned as much about that,” Pederson said. “I just have to look at the overall health of the football team. It’s not about getting somebody hurt, but it’s about protecting the guys out here. They have been doing an excellent job. These last six days have been tough. I wanted it to be tough on them.”
We’ll never know if Pederson would have made the changes without last week’s injuries, but the vacillations in the coach’s answer suggest it would have been business as briefly usual without the trips to the trainer’s room.