Eagles

What happened to Jordan Howard? He finally explains

What happened to Jordan Howard? He finally explains

When it happened? No big deal, Jordan Howard figured. 

“I thought I’d be right back for the next game,” Howard said. “But after a while it didn’t go away.”

It was back in Week 9, with the Eagles playing the Bears, his former team. Howard at the time was the Eagles’ leading rusher and on pace for more than 900 yards.

Howard ran 19 times for 82 yards and a touchdown in the Eagles’ win, but in the final minutes he got hit wrong.

“It was just at the end of the game, I got hit, I felt my arm go numb, and I knew I had a stinger,” he said. 

That was 54 days ago.

On Thursday, Howard was finally cleared for contact. He practiced Friday, and he’s expected to be in uniform Sunday when the Eagles close out the regular season in a crucial game against the Giants in East Rutherford.

He’s missed six games, and he’s lost his role as the Eagles’ lead back to Miles Sanders.

“It’s been kind of tough,” he said. “First time I’ve ever missed games in my NFL career, so it’s definitely been tough, so I’ve just been living through Miles and Boston (Scott), watching them play. … I wanted to be out there so bad. I had prided myself in not missing any games.”

This injury has lingered longer than most stingers. Howard has been able to participate in the walk-through portions of practice throughout his layoff, but he just never healed enough to be fully cleared for contact.

That clearance finally came when he was examined after practice on Thursday.

He said game days have been the hardest.

“Being out there, being on the sideline, wanting to get out there so bad but knowing I can’t,” he said. “Just tried to support my team any way I can. … Definitely been tough, but nothing I can do about it. It’s a unique injury and it takes time. You just have to be patient with it.”

Howard is a classic NFL workhorse back. Even with this injury he still has the third-most rushing attempts in the NFL since he entered the league in 2016 (behind only Ezekiel Elliott and Todd Gurley). He’s also got the third-most yards.

But the combination of Sanders’ emergence and Howard’s long layoff mean his role has changed dramatically.

“You just can't give him a full complement of plays,” Doug Pederson said Friday. “We don't want to necessarily disrupt what we have going, but he is a big piece obviously to our offense.”

Sanders will continue as the lead back, and Scott will continue as the second back.

Howard’s role? It’s going to be small.

“It’s been a while since I’ve been out on the field so it’s going to take some time to get back used to it,” he said. “I’m just trying to fit in wherever I can to help the team. I know I’ve got to get back into the groove of things. I can’t just go back out there and have my regular workload. I know what’s going to happen, so I can’t be naive about that.”

But if the Eagles need him? He will be ready.

“When I get out there I’m not going to be scared, I’m not going to be trying to take it easy or trying to ease into it,” he said. “That’s another way to get hurt, if you’re worried about injuries. So I’m not going to worry about it.”

Howard may not get more than a handful of snaps. He may not even get any carries.

But for a team that’s been losing talented players every week, it is a nice change of pace to actually get one back.

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NFL officially expands playoff format in time for 2020 playoffs

NFL officially expands playoff format in time for 2020 playoffs

The NFL has officially expanded its playoff format to 14 teams in time for the 2020 season. 

Starting with this upcoming season, the playoff field will expand from 12 to 14 teams, allowing one more wild-card team from each conference. 

Here are a few of the major points of this new format: 

• The AFC and NFC will each have seven playoff teams, but just the top seed from each conference will have a first-round bye in the playoffs. 

• In wild-card weekend, the other 12 teams will play — the No. 2 seeds will host 7s, the No. 3 seeds will host 6s and the No. 4 seeds will host 5s. 

• For this upcoming season, wild-card weekend will have three games on Saturday, Jan. 9 and three games on Sunday, Jan. 10. 

• One of the additional wild-card games will be on CBS on Jan. 10 at 4:40 p.m. The other will be on NBC on Jan. 10 at 8:15 p.m.

This is the NFL’s first expansion of the playoff format since the 1990 season, when the field went from 10 to 12. 

The Eagles made the playoffs as a division winner with a 9-7 record in 2019 and that would still be an option with this new format. This change simply adds another playoff team in each conference. In the 2019 NFC that would have been the 9-7 Rams. 

If you’re looking for a recent example in Eagles history of how this new format would’ve helped, look back at the 2014 season. The Eagles finished with a 10-6 record in Chip Kelly’s second season but missed the postseason. If this format was around, they would have been the third wild-card team after the 11-win Lions and Cardinals. 

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Jalen Mills changes number to recreate himself like Kobe and LeBron

Jalen Mills changes number to recreate himself like Kobe and LeBron

Entering his fifth year in the NFL, Jalen Mills won’t just have a new position. 

He’s going to have a new number too. 

In his first four seasons in the NFL, Mills wore No. 31. But recent signing Nickell Robey-Coleman is going to take over that number and Mills is going to jump to No. 21 after Ronald Darby left for Washington as a free agent. 

Mills explained the jersey number change on a conference call Tuesday: 

I think the number change is just a new beginning. One of the guys that always motivated me was a Kobe Bryant or a LeBron James. You see Kobe went from 8 to 24, you know, LeBron went from 6 to 23 (LeBron actually went from 23 to 6 to 23). It’s just recreating myself. Recreating that Green Goblin, that monster. It’s a new position, it’s a new feel, and it’s going to be new energy.

Mills, 25, signed a one-year, $4 million deal to return to the Eagles this offseason. He said there were some other teams interested in him, but he feels like there’s “unfinished business” in Philly and thinks the Eagles have a shot at returning to the Super Bowl. 

While no other teams wanted Mills to play safety, the Eagles will have him play a hybrid defensive back position to help replace Malcolm Jenkins, whom they let walk. Those are big shoes to fill, but Mills seems confident — doesn’t he always? — that he’ll be able to get the job done.

If he does, he’ll be wearing the No. 21, which has been a strong number in Eagles history. It was once worn by Eric Allen for seven seasons and Bobby Taylor for nine. 

In recent years, Darby took over the 21 in 2018 after Patrick Robinson left in free agency to re-join the Saints. 

Here’s a list of every Eagles player to ever wear No. 21 in a game: 

James Zyntell, Les Maynard, Paul Cuba, John Kusko, Herschel Stockton, Allison White, Chuck Cherundolo, William Boedeker, Al Pollard, Jim Carr, Joe Scarpati, Ray Jones, Jackie Allen, Wes Chesson, Al Clark, John Sciarra, Evan Cooper, Eric Allen, Bobby Taylor, Matt Ware, William James, Joselio Hanson, David Sims, Roc Carmichael, Jerome Couplin, Leodis McKelvin, Patrick Robinson, Ronald Darby

Mills will add his name to that list soon enough. 

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