One of Doug Pederson’s favorite phrases to say about injured players is “trending in the right direction.” So when the Eagles head coach used it to describe rehabbing Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz, it was a very good sign. He still hasn’t been ruled out for Monday night after being activated to the 21-day practice window on Nov. 16.
Pederson revealed that Ertz had participated in Wednesday’s team walk-through and how he responded to the pseudo-practice would go a long way in determining if he could suit up against Seattle. The Eagles have two more practices, plus a walk-through, before Monday night to chart his progress. Ertz would have to be added to the active roster on Saturday for him to be available.
“Zach is trending in the right direction,” Pederson told reporters on Wednesday. “He’ll be back out there today in our walk-through and our practice this afternoon. So, I’m optimistic and hopefully he comes away and feels good after today’s practice.”
Carson Wentz and Zach Ertz chopping it up before practice. pic.twitter.com/9myaW0iSzC
— Tim McManus (@Tim_McManus) November 25, 2020
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Less 12 Personnel, More Richard Rodgers
With Ertz out and Dallas Goedert still getting back up to speed, Pederson has been employing a more traditional 11 personnel package (one running back, one tight end, three receivers) over their dangerous 12 personnel (one running back, two tight ends, two receivers).
Meanwhile, Richard Rodgers has emerged as a reliable and sure-handed target for Carson Wentz. The veteran tight end has been targeted 15 times over the past three games while making 12 catches for 193 yards and one touchdown.
— A2D Radio (@a2dradio_com) November 22, 2020
“I like when Zach and Dallas are in there. I think Rich Rod has been a very positive complimentary piece in Zach’s absence right now,” Pederson said. “I’ve been very happy with how he’s played, and he’s played well. So, I do think that I think maybe 12 or 13 personnel could be a little more involved in our game plans, but at the same time, I do like 11 personnel as well.”
The Eagles also protected practice-squad tight end Caleb Wilson for Week 12. He was called up last week but deemed a healthy scratch on gameday.
Jason Kelce to Make 100th Consecutive Start
Pederson hinted Jason Kelce would start for the Eagles, then the All-Pro center confirmed it. He injured his left elbow against Cleveland and left the game for a whopping four snaps.
“I’ll be ready to go this week,” Kelce said. “Feeling surprisingly really good. Over the last couple of days, the swelling’s gone down.”
Jason Kelce leaves the field with an elbow injury. He has been the 7th highest center this year.
— PFF PHI Eagles (@PFF_Eagles) November 22, 2020
He’ll be making his 100th consecutive start, the longest active streak for any center in the NFL and longest for an Eagles center since 1970 when Guy Morriss started 95 straight games. Kelce will become the first NFL center to start 100-plus regular-season games since Chris Myers (123 games), per Eagles PR guru John Gonoude.
“I’ll tell you what, I love this guy,” Pederson said. “What he can do as a center, how he moves, how he gets to second-level defenders, how smart he is in protection. It’s just amazing to me. I’ve never really been around a player, an offensive lineman of his caliber that does what he does day in and day out and a ton of respect for Jason.”
✅ Eagles center Jason Kelce is leading all NFC centers in pro bowl voting by fans with 40,358
— Jeff Skversky 6abc (@JeffSkversky) November 25, 2020
Although Pederson did criticize Kelce for struggling with low snaps last week, it’s clear how much he admires and respects the “band leader” from Ohio. It’s a big reason why he makes him a team captain every year. He’s leading all NFC centers in Pro Bowl voting this year with 40,358 votes.
“He’s a great leader, not only in the offensive line room but I think on this football team,” Pederson said. “It’s one of the reasons I make him a captain every year and the team respects that and the team looks at that.”
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