Cowboys apparently without left tackle Tyron Smith vs. Eagles

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Cowboys apparently without left tackle Tyron Smith vs. Eagles

The Eagles will catch a huge break on Sunday night. 

According to NFL Network, the Cowboys are going to be without All-Pro left tackle Tyron Smith, who has been dealing with groin and back injuries.

Smith missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday, so even if he did play on Sunday, he wouldn't have been 100 percent. Byron Bell will start in Smith's place, according to the report. 

Bell came into the Falcons game and gave up two more sacks to Adrian Clayborn after Chaz Green gave up four. Smith is widely considered one of the best offensive tackles in the league, so the Cowboys will miss him. 

Meanwhile, in South Philadelphia, there was a surprise on the Eagles' injury report Thursday. Alshon Jeffery was limited by an ankle injury. 

Nothing to worry about, though. 

"I'll be all right," Jeffery said on Thursday afternoon. 

When asked if he's going to be able to play on Sunday night against the Cowboys, Jeffery said, "Most definitely." 

The injury, he said, didn't happen on Thursday. It's actually been "something that's been going on." Jeffery said it wasn't a big deal and that he'll be fine. 

For the second straight day, Ronald Darby (ankle), Zach Ertz (hamstring) and Jaylen Watkins (hamstring) were all full participants in practice. It appears all of them are going to be able to play Sunday. 

It will be the first game since the opener for Darby, who is coming back from a dislocated ankle. Ertz missed the Denver game before the bye but used the extra time to heal. 

In addition to Smith, the Cowboys are also expected to be without linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring) on Sunday. He's the most important piece of that defense. The Cowboys are obviously also without running back Ezekiel Elliott, who is serving the second game of his six-game suspension. 

Dez Bryant (knee) returned to practice on Thursday and is expected to play through his injury this weekend.

The biggest silver lining from Carson Wentz’s long rehab

The biggest silver lining from Carson Wentz’s long rehab

Obviously, no one wanted Carson Wentz to get hurt last season. No one wanted the franchise quarterback to go through 9½ months of grueling rehab. And, of course, it would have been much better if he stayed healthy and got to play in the playoffs and in the first two games of the 2018 season. 

But there’s a bright side to all of this. 

Going through this rehab is going to make Wentz an even better player. And I’m not talking about physically. 

Sure, during the past nine-plus months, Wentz’s upper body has gotten stronger, but I think the area in which he’s going to improve even more is his ability to use what he’s learned on the sideline and in the film room and apply it on the football field. 

Here’s what head coach Doug Pederson said about that possibility: 

I think it can only help him. It can sort of enhance his game a little bit.

I think sometimes sort of big picture you get a chance to see everything and take everything in from that view. It's a different view and it's a positive view.

So, that's why moving forward, I'm excited to see where he is at in that progression of his game.

Think about it. Wentz hasn’t been able to play in a football game since Dec. 10, so when he wasn’t working on his physical rehabilitation, he was either watching film or trying to help Nick Foles get ready to play. That’s a lot of hours logged in the film room or just thinking about football without being able to play. 

Maybe for some players, that wouldn’t account to much, but it’s not like Wentz is watching film and then forgetting everything he sees. His coaches — Pederson included — have marveled at his recall. Pederson back in 2016 even said he thought Wentz had a photographic memory. 

"We can obviously see it on the pictures, on the tablets on the sideline, and then when he goes back out there, he can remember that defense,” Pederson said in the fall of 2016. ”If he sees that front or that coverage, that look again, he knows exactly what's coming defensively, and he can put us in the right play."

Wentz is just 25 years old, but he was already way ahead of schedule as a cerebral quarterback last year. It’s scary to think about what this extended time in the film room could do for his game. His ability to see things pre-snap shouldn’t be overlooked. Remember in his rookie season when he was being compared to every great quarterback to ever play the game. This is the part of his ability that was the most Peyton Manning-like. 

Even Wentz thinks getting to view the game from a different perspective will help: 

Without a doubt. You see things. I know last year when I did get hurt and threw the headset on, you almost see things as a coach. You see things from a different perspective. 

But then also, to not take it for granted. I think when you get caught up in the middle of a season, you’re just going through it, you can take the opportunities for granted. I’ll always remind everybody, myself included, to never take a play for granted or take a game for granted because you never know when it’s going to be your last.

This is the most significant injury of Wentz’s football career, but it wasn’t his first. In college and even in high school, he learned how to rehab and get better even when he wasn’t able to play.

We might see some rust from Wentz on Sunday. We might see a guy who looks like he hasn’t played football in over nine months. What I do know is we won’t have to worry about the mental side of the game. In fact, he’s probably even farther along than the last time we saw him.

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Jordan Matthews explains criticism of former Eagles' training staff

Jordan Matthews explains criticism of former Eagles' training staff

Just six months ago, Jordan Matthews went on a national radio show and blasted the Eagles’ training staff for misdiagnosing a couple of his injuries before he was traded to the Bills.

Now he’s an Eagle again … with a brand new training staff. 

It’s all an interesting sidebar to Matthews’ return to the Eagles.

Matthews was traded to the Bills last summer in the deal that brought cornerback Ronald Darby to the Eagles.

But after playing in just 10 games and catching a career-low 25 passes for the Bills, Matthews’ season ended and he underwent ankle and knee surgery for injuries that he later said were initially misdiagnosed by the Eagles’ training staff.

Soon after the season ended, the Eagles replaced their entire training staff.

Here’s part of what Matthews said on Sirius XM NFL Radio in March, as reported by the Buffalo News

“I had two really bad diagnoses on the knee and the ankle, so going into the trade, I thought they were both things that were going to heal on their own. But once I got around Buffalo’s doctors … we ended up finding out there were other things that I was dealing with.”

On Wednesday, after his first practice with the Eagles, Matthews said he felt articles about those comments misconstrued his meaning, and he said he called former Eagles trainer Chris Peduzzi — who stepped down in February — to explain them.

“When you get misdiagnosed, nobody does that on purpose, and I didn’t like how that was kind of worded,” he said. “It was a mistake, that’s why it’s called a misdiagnosis.

“I didn’t say they lied. Things get seen wrong. Someone may look at an MRI and miss something and something was missed, that’s all that happened, so when I went to Buffalo, they had doctors who saw it.

“I’m just not the type to go tweet about junk or anything like that. Once the story ran I called Peduzzi myself and let him know, ‘OK, look, I was not trying to make it seem like you guys did that on purpose.’ It was an honest mistake. It was just what happened, it was unfortunate, but it was life.”

Matthews eventually signed as a free agent with the Patriots, only to get released after he pulled a hamstring early in training camp.

He re-signed with the Eagles on Wednesday and said he would have come back to Philly even if the former training staff were still here.

“I think so,” he said. “I’ve kind of moved on from it. It’s just an opportunity to play football. In my situation right now, I just want to be able to go out and play football. Let’s play ball. It wouldn’t have mattered, all the other variables.”

Matthews said he's 100 percent recovered from the hamstring injury and expects to play against the Colts Sunday.

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