Eagles

Darren Sproles plans on returning to action Monday; Eagles could still use him

Darren Sproles plans on returning to action Monday; Eagles could still use him

Darren Sproles has made it through two consecutive practices for the first time in months and the 35-year-old running back expects to play on Monday against Washington. 

“That’s the plan,” he said. 

While many have angrily written Sproles off this season, the veteran running back has desperately been trying to return from a hamstring injury he suffered in practice the week after the opener. He has missed the last 10 games. 

He wouldn’t go into detail on Friday about the injury that kept him out, but said it was “more than a simple hamstring injury.” 

Sproles said this has been the most frustrating injury of his career. After all, he spent all offseason rehabbing from a torn ACL with the goal to not go out like that. He wanted to make his last NFL season special and he hasn’t been able to play all year. 

It’s been equally frustrating for fans, some of whom have been ready to move on from Sproles for weeks because of this lingering situation. 

And I get why fans are frustrated but a lot of anger has been misplaced. It’s not like Sproles wanted to miss this time. Did the Eagles make a mistake in bringing him back or by keeping him on the roster this long? Maybe. But that’s not his fault. He’s just been constantly working to get back on the field. 

And if Sproles can get back on the field Monday, he could still help the Eagles. The Birds haven’t had a consistent receiving threat out of the backfield this season and Sproles could provide that. If nothing else, he could help the return game and is a stout pass protector. 

During these last few trying months, Sproles said his family and teammates have helped him get through. 

“You know, it’s tough,” he said. “But you just gotta keep on grinding. You know what I’m saying. You just can’t quit.”

If Sproles does return on Monday, he said he isn’t sure what kind of role he’ll have. He said we’ll see. 

Before the injury, Sproles had five carries for 10 yards and four catches for 22 yards in the season opener against Atlanta. A lot has happened in Sproles’ absence: Jay Ajayi went down for the year and Josh Adams has ascended into a starter’s role. But Doug Pederson can probably still find a way to use the Swiss Army knife.  

Right now, Sproles is sitting in sixth place all time in all-purpose yards with 19,216. Next up on the list is Tim Brown with 19,682. 

The idea this season was for Sproles to come back and have a nice season to finish off what has been a special career. After being forced to miss most of this season, would he consider playing another year? 

“Who knows?” Sproles said. “Who knows?” 

If these are the final five games of Sproles’ career, hopefully he can go out on a good note, trying to help the Eagles make a last-ditch playoff push. And hopefully, Eagles fans will be able to cheer him on a few more times. 

He deserves that. 

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Doug Pederson explains decision to replace practice with walkthrough

Doug Pederson explains decision to replace practice with walkthrough

Doug Pederson replaced Wednesday’s full-pads practice with a shirts-and-shorts walkthrough, an unusual but not unprecedented move but rare this early in the season.

Pederson said the walkthrough would be “much longer” than a typical day-before-the-game walkthrough, so it sounds like the Eagles will be out there as long as a real practice - or close to it -- but they’ll be running plays at a slower pace and working in shorts and shirts.

The Eagles had a very physical night game on a turf field in Atlanta Sunday night, didn't arrive back in Philadelphia until early Monday morning and are in the middle of three games in 12 days.

Pederson gave three reasons for the change:

1. If the Eagles ran a full practice, guys like DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery and Dallas Goedert, who are all banged up, would not be able to participate. In a walkthrough, often described as “a meeting on the practice field,” it appears they will be able to. That’s a positive sign that the Eagles haven’t ruled those three out for Sunday.

2. For guys like receivers J.J. Arcega Whiteside and Mack Hollins and TE Alex Ellis, who could have larger roles than they’re used to, a walkthrough means they don’t have to spend valuable time running scout team.

3. After Sunday’s game against the Lions, the Eagles have a short week before facing the Packers on Thursday in Green Bay. A walkthrough helps in recovery when faced with two games in five days.

“I want these guys as fresh as possible obviously for these next two weeks,” he said. “I’ve got to think of the big picture here. It’s early in our season and keeping guys as fresh as possible now so we can make a push later in the season.”

The Eagles are coming off a loss in Atlanta that dropped them to 1-1, and they lost a bunch of guys to injuries during — and before — the game.

Defensive tackle Tim Jernigan is out for at least several weeks, but Pederson seems optimistic that the rest of them — Jeffery (calf), Jackson (abdominal strain), Goedert (calf) and Corey Clement (shoulder) — at least have a chance to go Sunday.

If the Eagles had already ruled that group out, it wouldn’t make sense to adjust a practice to accommodate them.

Pederson since he got here has seemed to have a very good feel for what his team needs. When he needs to push them harder, when he needs to back off.

The Eagles are 4-0 in Thursday games under Pederson, although their two last year included the season opener — so they weren’t coming off a game — and a road game against the Giants.

One byproduct of a half-speed walkthrough is that players don’t get the aerobic benefit that they would get with a two-hour full-speed practice.

Pederson said he has to trust his players to get that work on their own over then next few days if they need it.

“I challenged the team this morning this way and my leadership council to really take it upon themselves to … stay mentally focused, mentally sharp,” Pederson said. “If they have to get any conditioning in between or after practice they do their own conditioning today, tomorrow and the rest of the week. But having a veteran group who can handle it does make it easier to adjust the schedule in this way.”

For the record, Pederson said Carson Wentz, who took a pretty good shot to the ribs Sunday, is fine and would have been a full participant if the Eagles had run a normal practice.

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Doug Pederson says Carson Wentz is fine, gives updates on injured Eagles

Doug Pederson says Carson Wentz is fine, gives updates on injured Eagles

Even though the Eagles canceled practice today and will instead have a walkthrough, they will still be required by league rules to put out an estimated injury report later in the day. 

For now, we have a few injury updates from head coach Doug Pederson. 

After practice was canceled and Carson Wentz’s media availability was pushed to later in the day, conspiracy theories swirled. After all, Wentz took quite a beating in Sunday night’s loss and was probably pretty sore the next morning. 

We’ll find out for sure from the injury report later, but Pederson on Wednesday morning was asked if Wentz would have practiced today had the Eagles held practice. 

“Carson?” Pederson responded bewildered. “Yeah.”

He’s fine?  

“Yeah,” Pederson responded. “Yeah, he’s fine.” 

But Pederson did have updates on some other Eagles who are injured: 

Tim Jernigan (foot): Jernigan broke his left foot on Sunday night, so this injury is the most significant from the Blue Tent Game. Pederson said, “Tim is going to be out a little bit longer” than some of their other injured Eagles. 

DeSean Jackson (groin), Alshon Jeffery (calf), Dallas Goedert (calf), Corey Clement (shoulder): Jackson, Jeffery and Goedert were out early in Sunday’s game. Clement got hurt in the second half. 

“The other guys are more day-to-day,” Pederson said. “They’re doing well and we’ll have an update later in the week. Right now, that’s why we’re doing this type of a practice today, so we can get them out there.” 

Pederson said, as far as he knew, Goedert’s injury happened in warmups and Jeffery and Jackson were hurt in the first quarter. It’s worth noting, Goedert had the same calf injury during training camp. Tight end Alex Ellis was called up from the practice squad Tuesday. 

There have been some reports that Jackson and Jeffery could miss the next two games, but Pederson didn’t confirm those reports on Wednesday morning. 

“Both those guys are getting treatment, they’re rehabbing, they’re day-to-day,” he said. “We’ll see where they are at the end of the week, but not committing to that.”

The Eagles host the Lions on Sunday afternoon, but then play in Green Bay just four days later on Thursday Night Football, so even though Pederson wouldn’t confirm those reports, they pass the smell test. 

If the Eagles don’t have Jeffery or Jackson, they’re down to three healthy receivers: Nelson Agholor, JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Mack Hollins. They also have Greg Ward and Marcus Green on the practice squad, so they can wait until later in the week to call one of them up.

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