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.