As the Eagles beat the Giants last week at MetLife Stadium, Isaac Seumalo, Wendell Smallwood and Rasul Douglas mostly watched.
There are a few things those three players have in common. One, they're all young draft picks over the last two years. Two, they've all had big roles with the Eagles at some point this season. Three, they don't have those roles anymore.
Seumalo, a third-rounder last year, began the season as the Eagles' starter at left guard but lost his job after two games. He's a backup now and played just four offensive snaps against the Giants.
Smallwood, a fifth-rounder last year, was set to have a big role with the Eagles this season. After Darren Sproles went down, he was supposed to take over on third downs. But he's struggled to stay healthy and has been inactive for the last five games since Jay Ajayi got to town.
And Douglas, a third-rounder this year, started and played well for the Eagles when Ronald Darby was out. But since Darby's return, Douglas has been on the bench. He was inactive last Sunday for the first time since the season opener.
As a head coach, Doug Pederson is aware these three are in a tricky situation. It's his job to make sure they're staying invested now that they're mostly spectators.
"Yeah, just having the open dialogue with them," Pederson said. "Still communicating with those three guys. As you've said, they’ve all had a little bit of a significant role this season already. But just making sure that they stay plugged in.
"Who knows what happens tonight obviously or next week where these guys might get a little more time. It takes everybody. They get good service team reps. Just make sure they stay plugged in from my standpoint and also their position coach."
Pederson said he has to treat younger players differently in these types of situations. Veterans who have been around the league seem to understand when these things happen.
This is new for first- and second-year players.
"They've come from college where they've been the starter and been the guy and now they're on a team where everybody is really good," Pederson said. "You have to kind of manage or massage that just a little bit."
Right in the action
On Monday night, when Lane Johnson takes his spot at right tackle, he'll have Khalil Mack staring back at him.
Just the latest reminder of how tough the right tackle position can be.
While teams have historically put their better tackle on the left side of the line to block the blindside of right-handed quarterbacks, there's a reason the Eagles didn't move Johnson over when Jason Peters went down this season. Johnson is the only right tackle to make the Pro Bowl this season.
"I think the right tackle position needs to be reevaluated because you look at the guys we have to block," Johnson said. "Right tackles have to block key guys in the NFL now. I think left tackle, right tackle, the dilemma is changing. There's really nowhere to hide."
Making the Pro Bowl has long been a goal for Johnson, but not just for him. He wants to kill the stigma of playing on the right side of the line. He hopes getting voted into this year's Pro Bowl could help others.
"It feels good," Johnson said. "I hope this puts right tackles in the spotlight because there's a lot of good right tackles out there who are deserving as well. Maybe that will change now."
Out of the backfield
Since Sproles' season ended in Week 3, the Eagles have been missing an element of their offense. They just don't have a running back that's a huge threat to catch the ball out of the backfield.
While Ajayi isn't Sproles — "No one could be Darren," offensive coordinator Frank Reich said — he has at least shown a little bit of pass-catching ability in the screen game.
In five games with the Eagles, Ajayi has eight catches for 70 yards. During that same five-game span, the Birds' other three running backs have nine for 104. Corey Clement has six for 71, but just won't be on the field as much as Ajayi in the playoffs.
"Jay pretty quickly showed that he had a knack for that," Reich said. "We feel comfortable mixing all of our backs in on the screens. Jay certainly did a great job. In the last couple games, he's had two really nice ones where the timing and the feel and his location. We talk a lot about exact spots to get to, adjusting. He's done a really good job."
Quote of the Week I: "It was just in my feelings." -- Darby on his mini Twitter rant
Quote of the Week II: "I'm not planning on playing." -- Malcolm Jenkins on making the Pro Bowl
Quote of the Week III: "Kelce got snubbed so bad I'm starting to wonder if the voters are all trash cans." -- tweet from Chris Long about Jason Kelce, who did this last week
Random media guide note: Kenjon Barner's favorite meal is eggs, bacon and syrup.