Eagles

Ajayi accomplishes something McCoy, Westbrook never did as Eagles

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Ajayi accomplishes something McCoy, Westbrook never did as Eagles

Through three games with the Eagles, Jay Ajayi has just 20 carries. 

To put that in perspective, before the trade to Philly this season, he had four individual games in Miami with more carries. 

Ajayi had just five rushing attempts in Sunday's 31-3 win over the Bears (see Roob's observations)

"It's coach's call," Ajayi said Sunday night about the distribution. "Take advantage of the opportunities when you get them."

Ajayi didn't have a great afternoon against the Bears. He had minus-4 yards rushing until a 30-yarder early in the fourth quarter. And on the tail end of that 30-yarder, he fumbled the ball away. Luckily for the Eagles, Nelson Agholor was there to fall on it (see story)

While Ajayi got just five carries, LeGarrette Blount got 15 carries for 97 yards. 

Why was he the back of choice Sunday? 

"Well, again, a lot of it came down to the style of defense the Bears ran this afternoon," head coach Doug Pederson said. "They got into a little bit of a five-man front with a five-down, really a sixth guy being the linebacker. We had several run schemes again in the game plan like we normally do, and the ones were a little more conducive for him to run sort of downhill at them and attack them that way, so he was obviously the back of choice."

Even with his struggles Sunday, Ajayi did something pretty amazing. He had a 30-yard run for the third straight game. That's something LeSean McCoy, Brian Westbrook and Duce Staley never did in an Eagles uniform. 

And Ajayi has done it in his first three games with the Eagles. 

Ajayi clearly has some burst. It's shown several times this season. But on several occasions Sunday, it looks like he might have been trying to do too much instead of taking an easy gain. When asked in the locker room if that was the case, Ajayi simply said, "nope." 

Ajayi said it's exciting to be on a team this good, that he's never been on a team like this.

But is he OK with his workload? 

"I just run the plays that coaches call," he said. "I'm happy we're winning. Let's keep it going."

Eagles rookie CB Sidney Jones cleared to practice

Eagles rookie CB Sidney Jones cleared to practice

On a day that will be remembered most for a player the Eagles lost to an injury (see story), they did learn that they are getting another player back after a long injury rehab.

The Eagles are finally going to get a look this week at rookie second-round pick Sidney Jones at practice. Whether he actually gets into a football game this year is still in doubt.

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said that nine months after he blew out his Achilles and eight months after the Eagles drafted him, Jones has finally been medically cleared to practice and will participate to some extent Wednesday when the Eagles get back to work following their win over the Rams Sunday in Los Angeles.

“We're just to the point of just want to see him out there running around, doing football activities outside of the normal workouts that he's been doing,” Pederson said Monday. “Just really changing direction and doing more football work this week.”

Jones tore his left Achilles during his pro day workout on March 11 and has spent the entire season so far on the reserve-non football injury list, which is for players with preexisting conditions dating before the first day of practice.

The Eagles had a window running from Week 7 until this week to activate Jones for practice, and once he practices on Wednesday, they’ll have 21 days to either activate him to the 53-man roster or shut him down for the year.

The Eagles have the luxury of taking their time with Jones, thanks to the play of starting corners Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby, slot corner Patrick Robinson and fourth corner Rasul Douglas.

Before his injury, Jones was projected as a first-round draft pick. The Eagles got him with the 43rd pick, but even if he doesn’t play until opening day next year, he will still be only 22 years old and under contract through 2020.

Jones had nine interceptions, six forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries, 8½ tackles for loss and 145 tackles in 40 career games for the University of Washington.

It remains to be seen where Jones will fit in next year, but Robinson, although he has played well, is due to become a free agent this offseason and turns 31 in September.

Douglas and Jones are signed through 2020, Mills through 2019 and Darby through 2018.

Doug Pederson adamant Eagles can overcome the ultimate loss

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USA Today Images

Doug Pederson adamant Eagles can overcome the ultimate loss

Remember when the Eagles lost Jason Peters and Jordan Hicks and Darren Sproles and plenty of folks thought the season was over? 

Doug Pederson does. 

Sure, this isn't exactly an apples-to-oranges comparison. Losing a left tackle or a middle linebacker or a running back isn't the same thing as losing an MVP-level quarterback entering his prime. It would be unfair to suggest they're the same. 

But Pederson has seen his team hurdle over every obstacle this year. With the biggest one yet now in front of it, it's his job to convince his team it can do it again. 

On Monday, Pederson tried to convince fans who have prematurely canceled Christmas. 

"To the fans out there, you can't lose faith," Pederson said. "This has been a resilient football team all season long. If there's ever an opportunity for me as a head football coach to rally the troops, now might be the time. 

"We just came off a tremendous victory to win the NFC East. Guys are riding extremely high. It's a little bittersweet. But you know what? We've got the Giants this week and we've got an opportunity to ... if you win Sunday, you get a first-round bye. There's still a lot to play for. That's what's exciting about this season. We're still playing for the opportunity to hopefully be in that game."

Pederson, just after delivering news of a torn ACL, was adamant that his team can overcome the loss of Carson Wentz

"It sure can," he said. "Heck yeah." 

It won't be easy. Before leaving Sunday's game, Wentz threw his 33rd touchdown pass of the 2017 season, breaking the Eagles' franchise record that had stood since 1961. But more than touchdown passes, Wentz made special plays seemingly every week, plays that only a handful of quarterbacks in the world can make. 

Nick Foles is a pretty adequate backup, and he did a nice job when called upon against the Rams. But he ain't Carson Wentz. Everyone, including his teammates, knows that. 

It's just that they don't have time to wallow in the loss of their superstar leader. Next weekend might be huge. 

A win against the Giants would earn the Eagles a first-round bye. A win against the Giants, paired with a Vikings loss, would earn them home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. After another obstacle was dropped in front of them on Monday morning, the Eagles can still help themselves. 

Pederson's role in all this is vital. He has to be the guy to hold it all together.  

"It's huge," he said. "I think even the guys felt it after the game yesterday. We just rally and we support the next guy. From my standpoint, you don't waver, man. You don't let people see you sweat, you just put your head down and you go to work. You get everybody ready to play. It was evident yesterday when Carson was out of the game, you saw Nick come in and come back and lead us to victory in that game. That right there is a great step in the right direction."