As the Eagles prepare to try to win a game to clinch the NFC East, they'll be getting a big boost.

Running back Jordan Howard is set to return against the Giants, NBC Sports Philadelphia's John Clark confirmed. And since Howard is going to return, the Eagles are also releasing Jay Ajayi.

ESPN's Adam Schefter first reported the news on Monday.

Howard suffered a stinger in the Bears game before the bye week and has missed the last six games. During that time, Miles Sanders has assumed the role of the Eagles' feature back and has been a revelation. Howard had not been cleared for contact during the last month-plus. He will have to be cleared for contact before he plays, which is reportedly happening.

So Howard will be back, but it's likely the Eagles will have a different role for him this time around. Now, Sanders should be the lead back and Howard can be his complement.

Either way, the Eagles just have to be thrilled to be getting back and offensive weapon in a season where they've lost so many. This could be a big boost for Week 17 and the playoffs if the Eagles get there.

In nine games before the injury, Howard had 525 rushing yards on 119 carries (4.4 yards per carry) and six touchdowns. So he was playing well in a contract season.

But Sanders has been great in his absence. In the six games without Howard, Sanders had rushed for 430 yards on 94 attempts (4.6) with two touchdowns and has also had 25 catches for 205 yards and two more scores. In those six games, he's averaged 105.8 yards from scrimmage per game and has looked more and more comfortable as his rookie season has gone on.


It'll also be worth monitoring just how much strength Howard will have. He's been away now for over a season, so the Eagles might have to ease him back into action. 

Meanwhile, Ajayi, 26, just didn't seem to have anything left in his surgically repaired knee. He carried the ball just 10 times for 30 yards and didn't play a single snap in either of the last two weeks. So he basically became an unplayable option. That's why getting Howard back is so huge.

It'll also be interesting to see how Boston Scott still fits into the mix. He has become a solid option for this offense. While his role will likely be decreased, he has probably earned the right to still get some playing time.

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