Eagles Injury Update: Jalen Mills will start Sunday, but Eagles missing other key players

Eagles Injury Update: Jalen Mills will start Sunday, but Eagles missing other key players

The Eagles are getting at least one key starter back for Sunday Night Football against Dallas, but will be missing several others. 

Jalen Mills (foot) was officially activated off the PUP list and said he will start against the Cowboys. 

I asked Mills what it meant to him to be named a starter after nearly a year off the field. 

“I had to make plays at practice, you know what I’m saying?” Mills answered. “It wasn’t nothing given. At the end of the day, you’ve got to show the coaching staff and you also gotta show the other 10 guys on the field that I’m capable of going out there and making plays.” 

It’s been nearly a year since his last game action (Oct. 28, 2018), but Mills said he feels like he’s in good enough condition to play the entire game if he needed to. But that probably won’t happen. Expect to see the Eagles rotate some. 

“It’s good,” Mills said about his conditioning. “Did a great job with Josh (Hingst), our strength coach as far as these six weeks on PUP on the side field, as far as me running and getting my heart and my lungs strong. And then football today and the last two days, running all over the field. If the ball’s getting thrown the other day, chasing it down.” 

Mills was not required to be on the injury report all week because he hasn’t been on the active roster. 

Here’s the final injury report of the week: 

Out: Nigel Bradham (ankle), DeSean Jackson (abdomen), Tim Jernigan (foot), Avonte Maddox (concussion, neck), Jason Peters (knee) , Darren Sproles (quad)  

Questionable: Ronald Darby (hamstring) 

No real surprises there. All the players ruled out haven’t practiced all week. 

Darby hasn’t played since he suffered his hamstring injury against Detroit. Doug Pederson said on Friday morning that he still viewed Mills and Darby as starters. So if Darby is able to play, expect him to start opposite Mills. 

Without Peters, rookie first-round pick Andre Dillard will make his first-career start at left tackle. He’ll see a lot of Robert Quinn and maybe a little of DeMarcus Lawrence. 

Jackson has been doing some work on a side field this week, but didn’t practice. He hasn’t played since early in the Atlanta game in Week 2. This will be his fifth consecutive game missed. On Friday morning, Pederson was asked if it’s even possible for Jackson to get to 100 percent this season. 

“Nobody is ever 100 percent,” Pederson said. “Again, with the type of injury that he has, and being a track guy, a speed guy, it affects you. It makes a difference. Is he going to be 100% when he comes back? Probably not. Is he going to feel better? Yeah, he'll feel better and be able to put it behind him and focus on football.”

Bradham was seen on Friday walking through the locker room, still with a noticeable limp. Without him, expect Kamu Grugier-Hill, Nate Gerry and T.J. Edwards to be the starters, with the first two playing on nickel downs. 

Sproles is out again, but is at least healing. For the first time (at least that reporters have seen) since his injury, he was working on a side field Friday. 

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What Zach Ertz is taking 'very personally' as 'angry' Eagles move forward

What Zach Ertz is taking 'very personally' as 'angry' Eagles move forward

It wasn’t one of Zach Ertz’s best games. May have been one of his worst.

“I was pretty hot for 24 hours,” Ertz said. “Just really disappointed in myself, the way I played.”

There were two drops, including one inside the Dolphins’ 5-yard line on the third-quarter drive that ended with Jake Elliott missing a field goal. And another play in the end zone that probably wasn’t technically a drop but that Ertz would tell you he should have caught.

After catching 30 passes for 288 yards the previous three games, Ertz was just 3 for 24 in Miami, his second-fewest yards this year.

Blowing a 14-point second-half lead, losing to a two-win team, a crucial drop when a catch could have been a game-breaker … it all led to one pissed-off Zach Ertz.

Monday morning, come in, train hard, just bust my butt in the weight room, try to get everything out of me, try to take out all my anger in the weight room,” Ertz said. “Come in Tuesday on the off day and get a bunch catches in, and then just kind of move on. I’ve played over 100 games in this league now, had a lot of success, can’t let one game define me. Obviously, I didn’t put a lot of good stuff on film that I was proud of, but I’m not going to lose confidence in myself, I know the coaches aren’t going to lose confidence in me, and I’ve got to be the player that this team needs me to be these last four games.

Ertz isn’t putting up the numbers he did last year, but he still leads all NFL tight ends with 70 catches and leads all NFC tight ends with 736 yards.

He’s up to 14th in NFL history in career catches among tight ends with 507.

But after Sunday’s disaster, he was hardly in the mood to celebrate a few catches.

I took it very personally, a lot of the leaders took it very personally, and the leaders of the team got to step up right now,” Ertz said. “We need our best players to be playing our best football right now and there’s no other way to put it. We put it upon ourselves to execute at a high level, kind of the core group of guys that we have, and we feel like if we’re able to do that, everybody else follows. That’s the makeup of this team. If our best guys are playing their best come December we have a chance to win football games, and that’s where we’re at right now.

Ertz didn’t practice the week leading up to the Miami game because of a hamstring injury he suffered pregame against the Seahawks a week earlier.

He said the three days off Monday through Wednesday, thanks to the Monday night game against the Giants this coming week, gave him a chance to heal, and he feels better now than he has in a long time.

Now he just has to make some plays and help this team win a game they have to win.

Guys are angry right now,” Ertz said. “Guys are frustrated. As a team we’ve just got to be able to bottle this up and control it on Monday night and go out there and play to the best of our abilities, allow the leaders to lead this football team and find a way to win a game.

Everybody knows the story.

They’re 5-7. Four wins gets them to the playoffs. Then again they’ve won only four games since Sept. 10.

At this point, just being angry and frustrated might not be enough.

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Is Eagles locker room still behind Doug Pederson?

Is Eagles locker room still behind Doug Pederson?

The Eagles on Thursday had an uncharacteristically tough practice for December. They were in full pads for the entire hour and 45-minute session. 

Doug Pederson just thought they needed it. 

“It kind of set the tone,” Brandon Brooks said. “This isn’t a cakewalk. This isn’t a walkthrough. This isn’t something where you lose a game and it’s back to regularly scheduled programming.”

In the last couple seasons, this is the time of year where Pederson has really scaled back practices. Thanks to injuries and attrition, the last couple Decembers have seen more walkthroughs than real practices. 

So going in full pads four days after a loss is quite a shakeup and a pretty strong message for the head coach to send to his disappointing 5-7 team.  

“Doug’s always got a great feel for that stuff,” Zach Ertz said. “It think that was needed today.” 

Players said there was no complaining about that unusually tough practice and it led to a spirited afternoon at the NovaCare Complex. Ertz is right; Pederson in the past has always had a knack for pushing the right buttons. Early returns on this button push were good. 

It was also a good sign that Pederson was right about something he said earlier in the day: 

Despite the record and the disappointment, Pederson still thinks the locker room is behind him. 

“I do,” Pederson said. “I really do.”

The head coach said he knows the locker room is behind him because he can “just sense and feel the energy of the group.” 

For this coach, that’s not nothing. Pederson, from the moment he was hired, was said to be a players’ coach. Remember all that emotional intelligence talk? And, as a former player, the idea was that he could relate to the guys in the locker room. Over his first three years as a head coach, that has paid off. 

Now, even on the heels of a three-game losing streak in what has been a wildly disappointing season, it still seems like his players are still supporting him. 

“Oh, 100 percent. We always have Doug’s back,” Brooks said. “As with anything with brothers, you’re going to have arguments here and there, but as far as having Doug’s back, we’ll always have Doug’s back. A lot of guys, including myself, would run through a wall for Doug. Any direction he leads us, we’ll follow.”

Brandon Graham, one of the longest-tenured players on the team, said he can see that players are buying in because of their acceptance of their roles. Players who want more reps still want more reps, but they’re happy to do whatever they can to help the team get better. Those players have not become “cancerous,” as Graham put it. 

There’s still effort. There’s still buy-in. There’s still faith in their process. 

“I’ve seen it go the other way,” Graham said. “The Dream Team year was crazy. That was a crazy year. All the expectation and when things was bad, it was bad. It was just a lot of dysfunction after that.”

While it certainly seems like the locker room is behind Pederson, it’s important to remember that 53 individuals make up the team. We often seem to talk about “the locker room” in general terms but that’s assuming everyone is thinking the same way, which probably isn’t the case. 

That was why Josh McCown, the oldest player on the team, was hesitant to speak for anyone but himself. But, speaking for himself, McCown said he thinks Pederson has done an “excellent job” leading the team this year. 

Actions, of course, speak louder than words. We’ll see if Pederson’s messages are getting through in these last four games. 

“Doug still rules with an iron fist,” Brooks said. “Like I said, wherever he leads us, we’ll go.”

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