By Kimberley A. Martin
Pro Football Writers of America
MINNEAPOLIS — The Philadelphia Eagles were fully accounted for on Friday, the final full practice of the week before Super Bowl LII, head coach Doug Pederson said.
That includes veteran defensive tackle Tim Jernigan, who was a full participant in his first practice after being sequestered with an illness all week.
Running back Jay Ajayi (ankle) practiced fully, as did cornerback Ronald Darby (illness), defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (calf) and linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring).
It was a typical Friday practice for the Eagles, complete with their standard emphasis on red-zone drills, plus a final review of first-, second- and third-down, short-yardage and goal-line drills. “That’s kind of the main focus every Friday,” Pederson explained, “Just to tie-up any loose ends maybe from the week.”
So how does Pederson know he’s done enough to prepare his team for the defending champion New England Patriots?
“I’ve been around these guys all year and I can tell by the way they practice — the speed, the tempo, assignment sound, the energy level. Things like that lead me to believe because I’ve seen it all season,” he said. “Now, that doesn’t tell you how they’re going to play. But it just tells you that they’re prepared and ready to go into this game.”
The final whistle blew at 1:50 p.m., roughly an hour and 20 minutes after the afternoon session began. Following the team’s normal post-practice stretch, Pederson stood near midfield, surrounded by his players, coaches and front office executives, and delivered a lengthy speech. With it being the last full practice of the week, and the team’s final Friday practice of the season, Pederson felt compelled to have “a private little moment.” He stressed the importance of seizing the moment and also having fun.
“Play loose, have fun, enjoy the moment,” he said, relaying what he told his players. “These opportunities, as you know, don’t come around every year. Also, make sure just to reflect on this season, reflect on the journey that got us here. But just play for one another, have fun and enjoy it.”
The next speech reserved for the Eagles will be a special one as well. Pederson’s former Green Bay Packers quarterback and Hall of Famer Brett Favre is scheduled to land in Minneapolis on Friday, according to Pederson, and will address the team Saturday morning.
After three days of practicing at the University of Minnesota’s Gibson-Nagurski Complex, the Eagles will hold a 30-minute walkthrough on Saturday at U.S. Bank Stadium, the site of Super Bowl LII.