Despite Injuries to Zach Ertz and Jordan Matthews, Doug Pederson Still Wants to Hit

A little good news and bad news on the injury front for the Eagles.

First the good news: Right guard Brandon Brooks and running back Ryan Mathews practiced for the first time this training camp (see story) on Friday. They were limited upon their return – didn’t do any team stuff – but they were able to go through individual drills.

Now the bad.

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Zach Ertz and Jordan Matthews, the Eagles’ top two offensive weapons, left practice early. Ertz was being evaluated for a concussion, but shortly after practice the team said he was cleared. Matthews has a left knee injury, but the team seems confident it’s just minor. In an interview with SIRIUSXM Radio, head coach Doug Pederson said Matthews is "fine" and will "just be sore for the next few days."

Phew.

Both Ertz and Matthews went down after being hit low: Ertz by rookie Blake Countess and Matthews by rookie Jalen Mills. Pederson said the coaching staff will stress the importance of protecting each other even when the team is in live periods.

But he’s not tossing those live periods.

“I just know this: football is a contact sport,” Pederson said. “This is gonna happen. Whether it happens today or it happens Thursday night. It’s a part of the game. I’m a big believer that you never shy away from contact. You have to have contact. It’s a contact sport. You just keep training the guys. You keep talking to them about protection.”

In the last two days, Jason Peters, Malcolm Jenkins, Zach Ertz and Jordan Matthews – four of the most important pieces on the 2016 team – have left early. Peters (quad) and Jenkins (hamstring) missed practice on Friday.

Nolan Carroll (ankle) was held out as the team monitors his recovery from surgery last year and rookie running back Wendell Smallwood (quad) was out on Friday too. Smallwood has missed the last three days.

Mike Martin (left knee) and Marcus Smith (concussion) also left practice before its conclusion on Friday. Smith will need to pass the NFL’s concussion protocol before he’s allowed to resume practicing.

While Jenkins was already out, fellow starting safety Rodney McLeod also missed practice because of a death in the family. The Eagles started the day with Ed Reynolds and Jaylen Watkins at safety, but rotated other guys in with the first team as well.

The Eagles will get a little reprieve from the grind of training camp on Saturday, as the team will hold a lighter and shorter 10-10-10 practice.

It seems it’s coming at a perfect time.

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