Eagles missing linebacker as NFC Championship Game prep begins

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NBC Sports Philadelphia

Eagles missing linebacker as NFC Championship Game prep begins

Updated: 4:03 p.m.

What's left of the Eagles' 53-man roster is pretty healthy as the Birds kicked off practice leading into Sunday's NFC Championship Game against the Vikings. 

With one exception. 

Middle linebacker Dannell Ellerbe was the only player on the roster who did not practice as the team worked out inside their practice bubble in pads Wednesday. Ellerbe has been dealing with a hamstring injury. Ellerbe was there as a spectator and without a helmet. Sidney Jones (hamstring) was a full participant. 

The veteran linebacker missed practice last Tuesday, was limited Wednesday and became a full participant Thursday. We'll see if this week mirrors that. 

Ellerbe ended up being listed as questionable for the game, but was active against the Falcons and played 23 snaps (37 percent). Ellerbe is the Eagles' starting MIKE linebacker in their base package. He comes out on nickel downs. 

In Minnesota, Vikings receiver Adam Thielen missed practice with a lower back injury. Thielen caught 91 passes for over 1,200 yards this season.  

The Eagles were back in pads Wednesday, trying to keep things as normal as possible. There was plenty of intensity during the open portion of the practice. During special teams drills, rookie cornerback Rasul Douglas ran through veteran linebacker Najee Goode. That's some West Virginia on West Virginia crime. 

Here are some views from Wednesday's session: 

Eagles get starting middle linebacker back at practice

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NBC Sports Philadelphia

Eagles get starting middle linebacker back at practice

The Eagles had everyone on their active roster practicing Wednesday as they near their first playoff game against the Falcons on Saturday. 

Veteran middle linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring) returned to the practice field Wednesday after missing Tuesday. He stretched and took part in position drills in the portion of practice that was open to reporters. Ellerbe was a limited participant. So was Sidney Jones (hamstring), but Jones said his injury isn't anything serious -- just some soreness from playing his first game in a year. 

Ellerbe doesn't play a ton for the Eagles, but he is the MIKE linebacker in their base package. He took over that role from Joe Walker, who was injured and then subsequently placed on IR. Ellerbe comes off the field when the defense goes into Nickel, while Mychal Kendricks and Nigel Bradham stay on. 

Brandon Graham (ankle), Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee) and Jay Ajayi (knee) were all on the field again Wednesday. They were listed on the injury report as full participants Tuesday. All three appear to be good to go for Saturday's game. 

That means the Eagles are relatively healthy going into the playoffs. Sure, they've suffered some major season-ending injuries throughout the season, but the guys who are on the 53-man roster right now are healthy for the game. 

Meanwhile, in Atlanta, Matt Ryan was back at practice after being given a personal day Tuesday. Falcons coach Dan Quinn declined to say why Ryan missed practice. 

Sidney Jones has been practicing without interruption for the last few weeks and played in the regular-season finale. It's unclear if he'll have a role with the Eagles in the playoffs, but if he doesn't, it won't be a product of any lingering injury. He appears fully recovered from his Achilles tear. 

The Eagles practiced indoors Wednesday. Head coach Doug Pederson said he hoped to get outside once this week but it hasn't happened yet. The Eagles have their last practice day Thursday, when temperatures are supposed to hit around 50 degrees. 

Eagles get 2 starters back at practice

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NBC Sports Philadelphia

Eagles get 2 starters back at practice

The Eagles are looking pretty healthy heading into their divisional round playoff game against the Falcons on Saturday. 

Brandon Graham (ankle) and Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee) both returned to practice on Tuesday inside the bubble. Graham and Vaitai missed practices last week during the bye. 

Graham suffered his ankle injury in the game against Oakland on Christmas Day and didn't play at all in the regular-season finale. Vaitai played every snap in the game against the Cowboys, but had been listed on the injury report in recent weeks. 

Getting Graham back will be the last piece to a healing defensive line. Tim Jernigan has had an ankle injury for most of the season and Derek Barnett is getting over a groin injury. All three missed the regular-season finale and got a chance to heal and rest. 

While both of those guys returned to practice, veteran middle linebacker Dannell Ellerbe didn't practice on Tuesday. Ellerbe was on the field for stretching, but didn't have a helmet or cleats. 

Ellerbe had a black sleeve on his right leg, but his injury is unknown. The full injury report will be released later in the afternoon. 

For anyone wondering, Jay Ajayi practiced again on Tuesday. He missed just one day last week as a rest day for his knee. He's good to go for the playoffs.