Eagles

NFL Notes: Adrian Peterson returns to practice

NFL Notes: Adrian Peterson returns to practice

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Adrian Peterson was back on the practice field on Wednesday for the first time in nearly three months, and the Minnesota Vikings hope their star running back can give them the jolt they need to chase down a playoff berth.

Peterson's rehab of a torn meniscus in his right knee is nearly complete, allowing him to rejoin his teammates at practice as he ramps up for a highly anticipated return. Wearing a black brace on his right knee, Peterson took handoffs from Sam Bradford, ran routes and went through some agility drills during the portion of practice that was open to media.

Peterson was not available for comment on Wednesday, but did tell a local website earlier in the week that he is still targeting the Dec. 24 game in Green Bay for his first game since the injury against those same Packers in Week 2.

Coach Mike Zimmer did not rule out Peterson playing against the Indianapolis Colts (6-7) on Sunday, but that appears optimistic at this point. Peterson said last week that he likely would not play in a game this year if the Vikings (7-6) were eliminated from the playoff hunt, but after beating Jacksonville last weekend they remain very much in the mix in the NFC.

Cardinals: WR Michael Floyd released
TEMPE, Ariz. — The Arizona Cardinals released wide receiver Michael Floyd on Wednesday, two days after he was arrested on charges of driving under the influence and failure to obey a police officer.

Floyd was taken into custody after being found unconscious behind the wheel of his running vehicle at an intersection in suburban Scottsdale early Monday. He was booked and released from the Scottsdale jail later that morning.

Coach Bruce Arians said at the time that he was gathering information to determine "what our options are going forward."

Floyd, a first-round pick by the Cardinals in 2012, had 33 catches for 446 yards and four touchdowns this season. Those were well off his 2015 stats, when he overcame early injury problems to catch 52 passes for 849 yards.

Colts: Luck expects to play despite soreness
INDIANAPOLIS — Andrew Luck says he expects to play Sunday against Minnesota after missing Wednesday's practice with a sore throwing shoulder and a sore right elbow.

The Indianapolis Colts (6-7) have given Luck some extra days off this season in hopes of keeping him healthy.

But after sitting out Wednesday, Luck acknowledged that he was injured during last weekend's loss to the defending AFC South champion Houston Texans and that he deferred to the doctors and trainers.

He compared the soreness he's feeling now to how he felt after a Week 3 victory over San Diego when he also missed practice time.

Still, Luck said he "absolutely" would be ready to play against the Vikings (7-6).

Lions: Stafford throws with glove on hurt finger
ALLEN PARK, Mich. — Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford had a different look at practice Wednesday.

H wore a glove on his right throwing hand that covered only his injured middle finger. He seemed to throw accurately with a decent degree of velocity to teammates during the portion of practice that was open to reporters.

The New York Giants will provide a much tougher test for Stafford's ability to pass effectively with a banged-up finger outdoors and on the road this weekend.

Stafford hurt his finger in the first quarter of Sunday's win over Chicago. He played the rest of the game with a glove covering all his fingers and thumb on his right hand.

Forget backups, Nick Foles better than half of NFL starters

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USA Today Images

Forget backups, Nick Foles better than half of NFL starters

Nick Foles has been thrust into duty as the starting QB of the Eagles. But it wasn't that long ago that this region fell in love with the Arizona product under similar circumstances. In 2013, Foles stepped in for an injured Michael Vick and set the NFL ablaze, going 8-2 as a starter, tying an NFL record with seven TDs in a game, and setting a new league mark for passer rating by a second-year QB (119.2).

When the Eagles signed Foles back in March, it was billed as a solid insurance policy in case Carson Wentz was injured. Now that they need to cash in that insurance policy, let's take a look at where Foles stands among current starting NFL quarterbacks.

I put the 31 other starters into four groups: definitely better than Foles, a bit better than Foles, as good as/maybe better than Foles, and no stinking way they're better than Foles. I am making this determination largely based on how they are playing right now, not necessarily what they've done prior to today.

Definitely Better Than Nick Foles — the "Duh" section (7)
Tom Brady
Drew Brees
Philip Rivers
Ben Roethlisberger
Aaron Rodgers
Matt Ryan
Russell Wilson

Better Than Nick Foles, But Not By A Ton (8)
Derek Carr — Still not 100 percent after a back injury.

Kirk Cousins — Way better than any Eagles fan will admit. Here's hoping he signs a lifetime deal somewhere else. Like Venus.

Jared Goff — Pretty impressive Sunday vs. the Eagles. Star on the rise.

Case Keenum — So hot right now.

Marcus Mariota — Shoutout to Chip Kelly

Cam Newton — Maybe the last true dual-threat QB out there. Damn near indestructible.

Dak Prescott — Another tough admission, but when kept upright, he's pretty darn good.

Matthew Stafford — If this guy ever gets a real team around him ... nah, forget it. He makes so much money, he'll never get a team around him.

As Good/Maybe Better Than Foles (3)
Joe Flacco — Hasn't been the same since Anquan Boldin dragged him to a ring five years ago

Alex Smith — Started off white-hot, really lousy of late

Jameis Winston — World of talent around him, still lost to Brett Hundley two weeks ago

Worse Than Nick Foles (13)
Eli Manning — Please don't tell me about his rings. Dude lost his starting gig to Geno Smith. Even if it was the wrong decision, the fact that there was even a conversation about this tells you everything you need to know.

Mitch Trubisky — Starting to figure it out, but seven weeks ago he played an entire game and threw seven passes. Seven.

Blaine Gabbert — Nope.

Jimmy Garoppolo — Not yet.

Jay Cutler — (Giggles)

Tyrod Taylor/Nathan Peterman/Joe Webb — And yet, the Bills would make the playoffs if they began today. Yikes.

TJ Yates — Nnnnope

Bryce Petty — Will make first NFL start Sunday vs. Saints. Look out.

Deshone Kizer — Poor guy.

Andy Dalton — Used to fade in January. Starting earlier every year.

Jacoby Brissett — Never had a chance.

Blake Bortles — Throws 30-plus passes most games. Two 300-yard games this season.

Trevor Siemian — Woof.

So by my math, Nick Foles is about a middle-of-the-road starting NFL QB. What you think that says about Foles or today's NFL is up to you.

5 key Eagles matchups vs. Giants

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5 key Eagles matchups vs. Giants

Even with Nick Foles, the Eagles should probably crush the Giants this weekend. After all, what's been going on in North Jersey has been a disaster all season. 

The head coach and GM have already been fired. The franchise quarterback was benched and then brought back. Oh yeah, and the Giants have just two wins all season. 

It's a mess up there. 

But this is probably a good time to remind you that the Giants had a three-point lead on the Eagles until the final minute of regulation in Week 3. And had it not been for a 61-yard field goal from unknown rookie kicker Jake Elliott, the game would have gone to overtime and then who knows what happens. 

Sure, it's been a long time since Week 3, but the Eagles can't overlook any team, especially after losing Carson Wentz for the season. 

Here are five matchups to watch: 

Sterling Shepard vs. Patrick Robinson 
In the first meeting between these two teams, Shepard had a really good game. He caught seven passes for 133 yards and a touchdown. The big play was a 77-yarder. Believe it or not, that was the only touchdown of the season for Shepard. 

On that 77-yard touchdown, Robinson let Shepard catch the ball, but Chris Maragos took a bad angle toward Shepard that allowed him to go the distance. Maragos actually took out Robinson on the play. 

In that game, Robinson played pretty well and had an interception. Really, he's been solid all season. He's been one of the more pleasant surprises this year. 

Evan Engram vs. Malcolm Jenkins
While Robinson will be dealing with Shepard, Jenkins will have his hands full with Engram, who has become the team's top receiving threat with Odell Beckham Jr. on IR. Engram, the rookie tight end, has 55 catches for 623 yards and six touchdowns this season. He's already become a threat for the Giants. 

The good news for the Eagles is they've been decent against opposing tight ends, giving up 59 catches for 597 yards and five touchdowns. Eleven teams have given up fewer receiving yards to opposing tight ends. Jenkins is their best shot against Engram. 

Chad Wheeler vs. Brandon Graham 
On a line that still features Ereck Flowers at left tackle, it's worth noting that the Giants are down to rookie Wheeler at right tackle. Wheeler went undrafted out of USC, but has become the Giants' third right tackle this year. Bobby Hart began the season, then Justin Pugh got his turn, now it's on Wheeler. 

Wheeler has started the last three games at right tackle. During those three games, he's given up four sacks and 11 quarterback hurries, according to ProFootballFocus. 

This weekend, he'll see Brandon Graham, who has been an absolute force all season. Graham leads the team with a career-high 8 1/2 sacks and has been even more disruptive than that. 

Nick Foles. vs. Steve Spagnuolo
You might have heard that the Eagles have a new quarterback this week. Carson Wentz is out for the season after tearing his ACL, which means Foles will get the start against the Giants. It'll be up to defensive coordinator and interim head coach Spagnuolo to try to rattle him. 

All week the Eagles have said nothing changes with the quarterback switch. Sure, Wentz is just a more athletic player than Foles, so they'll miss that. But they claim they're just going to run their offense. That seems to be what the Giants are preparing to see. 

"We're going to play to defend the scheme," Spagnuolo said on a conference call with Philly reporters this week. "They're just a well-oiled machine right now." 

Eagles receivers vs. Giants cornerbacks
With a backup quarterback, it would make sense to see the Eagles come out and run the ball a ton on Sunday afternoon. But there will be the opportunity to pass against the Giants and their messy cornerback situation. Now, the Eagles should be able to run, too. The Giants are the 31st-ranked run and pass defense, so they stink in both areas. 

But what better opportunity for Foles to get a chance to work with his new receivers. Running the ball is probably going to be a key for the Eagles the rest of the way. They should absolutely run the ball. But running the ball alone won't be enough to win a championship. They'll need Foles to play well too. This could be a chance for him to build that confidence and have his teammates grow their confidence in him.