PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — For many Eagles, the excitement of making the 53-man roster or getting a call to the practice squad must now give way to patience.
With the spotlight on the final roster moves over the weekend, the attention now turns to the Eagles’ season opener on Sunday against Washington.
The players on the practice squad and at the bottom of the depth chart will have to play the waiting game and will likely remain on the sideline unless an injury forces them into action.
Head Coach Doug Pederson had a simple message for his reserves.
“They’re one play away from being active being in a football game,” said Pederson. “I’ve been in that situation before, so I understand. My message to the practice-squad players, to the guys on the 53 that could potentially be a healthy scratch on game day is this: You’re a snap or two from entering a football game.”
Among the players who will likely be spectators this Sunday will be Donnel Pumphrey. The rookie running back struggled during the preseason and some wondered if the fourth round draft pick was in danger of getting cut.
Pumphrey admitted on Monday he expects to be inactive against Washington and the running back understands he will have to bide his time before getting his first taste of regular season action.
However, Pederson made it clear to Pumphrey and several other players how close they are to suiting up in the regular season.
“That was his speech to everybody who was on the practice squad and who’s not going to be active on game day,” Pumphrey said. “You take advantage of every rep and you could be next. You never know how the NFL is going to go. It’s a 16-game season because anything can happen.”
Pederson’s first priority will be to win games. The other task for Pederson and his staff will be to develop the players who are waiting in the wings.
“It’s a little bit of a fine line,” said Pederson. “My focus and the coordinators’ focus and really the position coaches is on that specific game plan that week. We also know part of our jobs, too, is to maintain the development of our younger players. We’ve just got to continue to do that.”
For the regulars, the focus will be on the Washington Redskins this Sunday. Many of the top players were given a few days off while the backups fought for the final roster sports. Now, players such as Fletcher Cox are ready for the season to start.
“It’s exciting now that the preseason is out-of-the-way,” Cox said. “Everybody kind of recovered over the weekend. Training camp was a grind, but we’re looking forward to this week. What better way would you want to start it against a division opponent?”