Doug Pederson reveals RB plan with Jordan Howard’s likely return

Doug Pederson reveals RB plan with Jordan Howard’s likely return

Before Jordan Howard suffered a stinger in the Bears game, he was clearly the Eagles’ lead running back. 

A lot has changed since then. 

Miles Sanders has taken over as the Eagles’ top runner and it’s a job he isn’t going to give back. Head coach Doug Pederson confirmed that on Thursday morning. 

I honestly don’t think much has to change. I think Jordan is a piece to the puzzle. He can obviously add depth, but Miles has been sort the hot hand here lately and we want to continue that going." 

Howard hasn’t actually been cleared for contact yet but is scheduled to meet with doctors later this afternoon. The Eagles are hoping he’ll be cleared and will be good to go for Sunday in North Jersey. 

But Howard has missed six games, so there will be an acclimation process for him to get back into game shape. That will sort of aid the decision that Pederson needed to make anyway: to keep Sanders as the No. 1. 

And it even sounds like Boston Scott will continue to be a role player on offense. 

“Oh yeah. Boston Scott has done enough to stay involved,” Pederson said. “I think you still go in with Miles and Boston. I think it goes back to Jordan just getting caught back up. And I think more so physically, getting back to game shape.”

In these six games without Howard, Sanders has been great and has become a legitimate candidate to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. He has averaged 105.8 scrimmage yards in those six games and has 328 scrimmage yards in the last two. 

But let’s not forget how good Howard was earlier in the season. In the last two games he played (wins over Buffalo and Chicago), Howard had 42 carries for 178 yards and two touchdowns as a true workhorse. 

"We want [Howard] back, I want him back because he's only going to make us better," Sanders said earlier this week. "We're a better team with him so I'm looking forward to him coming back if he does."

While Sanders will have three more years on his rookie contract, Howard is in the final year of his deal and will become a free agent after the season. The Eagles will have a decision to make on Howard and this game and maybe a playoff run might help them make it. While the usage percentage has changed, Sanders and Howard are still complementary pieces. 

In other injury news, Zach Ertz (ribs) won’t practice on Thursday but hasn’t been ruled out for Sunday’s game

And Lane Johnson (ankle) won’t practice either on Thursday but will take part in walkthroughs. If Johnson can’t play, Halapoulivaati Vaitai will make his third straight start. But there’s a chance Johnson will be back. 

“We have a couple days here to see where he is at the end of the week,” Pederson said.

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Former Eagles kicker Tom Dempsey dies after battle with coronavirus

Former Eagles kicker Tom Dempsey dies after battle with coronavirus

Former Eagles kicker Tom Dempsey died on Saturday of complications from the coronavirus. Dempsey was 73.

Dempsey contracted the coronavirus in March at the Lambeth House, a retirement home in New Orleans, and is one of at least 15 residents to die from the virus, according to The Times-Picayune.

Dempsey was an Eagle from 1971-1974, but also played for the Saints, Rams, Oilers and Bills.

Born without fingers on his right hand and toes on his right foot, Dempsey was known for his small flat kicking shoe. That shoe now resides in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

“Tom's life spoke directly to the power of the human spirit and exemplified his resolute determination to not allow setbacks to impede following his dreams and aspirations,” Saints owner Gayle Benson said in a statement. “He exemplified the same fight and fortitude in recent years as he battled valiantly against illnesses but never wavered and kept his trademark sense of humor. He holds a special place in the hearts and minds of the Saints family."

The year before he joined the Eagles, Dempsey gained fame by kicking a 63-yard field goal to give the Saints a last-second 19-17 win over the Lions at Tulane Stadium in 1970. It broke the previous NFL record for longest field goal by 7 yards.

That was the NFL record for 43 years until Matt Prater hit a 64-yarder in 2013. Others had tied the record but it took over four decades to beat it.

In his four seasons with the Eagles, for whom he played the longest, Dempsey kicked in 47 games and made 66 of 108 field goals (61.1%). He also made 84 of 90 point-after attempts. Dempsey is 18th on the Eagles’ list of all-time scorers with 282 points.

Dempsey retired to New Orleans where he began his NFL career as an undrafted free agent in 1969. He had been battling dementia since 2012. 

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Darius Slay explains why he’s wearing 24 to honor Kobe Bryant

Darius Slay explains why he’s wearing 24 to honor Kobe Bryant

You can still hear the giddiness in Darius Slay’s voice when he talks about Dec. 6, 2015. 

That was a special day for the Eagles’ new cornerback. 

That was the day he met the Kobe Bryant. 

The meeting between the late NBA superstar and the then-third-year NFL pro came after a Lakers-Pistons game at The Palace of Auburn Hills during the 2015 season. It’s a day and a moment Slay will never forget, getting the chance to meet his favorite basketball player and a personal idol. 

And now with the Eagles, Slay will honor Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, by wearing the No. 24 for the football team Bryant loved. 

“I was surprised that he even knew me,” Slay said. “I don’t know if the people told him, ‘You got Darius Slay out there waiting on you from the Detroit Lions’ or gave him a pre-talk about me or something. I don’t know. 

“But the fact that he came around the corner and (there) was like 20 to 30 reporters waiting on him, he kind of walked past all the reporters, everybody and came directly to me, like, ‘What’s up Slay? I love your game, man.’ He was talking about my style of play and we just chopped it up for a minute.”

Slay said he was so in shock that day he barely had any words to speak but he was able to hold a short conversation. Then Slay got Kobe’s autograph and they took a few photos together, including this one: 

Slay previously wore No. 23 in Detroit but that number is occupied by Rodney McLeod with the Eagles. And Jordan Howard, who wore 24 last year, left for Miami as a free agent. So things lined up perfectly for Slay to take the second of Kobe’s two retired numbers. 

When Bryant died in January, it became even more apparent how much he meant to his fellow athletes. When Bryant visited the Eagles in LA during the 2017 season, there was a similar giddiness with them. There’s a really good chance that Bryant was your favorite athlete’s favorite athlete. 

“I just love how much he competed,” Slay said. “He was a true competitor. He worked on his craft. I believe the work you put in is [what] you get out of it.” 

Slay said he also really admired that Bryant was always willing to seek out answers from others, most notably Michael Jordan. Even though Bryant was constantly being compared to Jordan, he was never hesitant to pick Jordan’s brain. 

Similarly, Slay said he loves talking to other cornerbacks and asking advice. He doesn’t care who that cornerback is; if he has a question about their technique or facing a particular receiver, he’s going to ask. 

“It’s just the part about doing anything and be willing to do anything to be good and be great,” Slay said. “That’s why I took out a lot of stuff that he did and that’s what I’ll continue to keep doing.”

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