Eagles

Record-setting Nick Foles doesn't expect rib injury to sideline him for playoff game

Record-setting Nick Foles doesn't expect rib injury to sideline him for playoff game

LANDOVER, Md. — What Nick Foles says: He won’t know whether he can play against the Bears in the Eagles’ playoff opener until the Eagles get some test results back on his sore ribs.

What Nick Foles means: There is no chance in hell he’s missing this game.

For the second straight week, Foles on Sunday took a big hit to the ribs late in the Eagles’ win over the Redskins at FedEx Field. He left the game two minutes into the fourth quarter with the Eagles leading 17-0, and with Carson Wentz inactive as his back injury heals, Nate Sudfeld threw his first career touchdown pass against his former team for the final 24-0 score.

The Eagles, 4-1 this year under Foles, face the Bears in a wild-card-round game this weekend at Soldier Field in Chicago.

“I’m sore, I’m sore,” Foles said. “We’re going to continue to find out what’s going on. We’ll find out more about what’s going on in the morning. … I don’t really have a lot of information right now, so tomorrow will be a big day.”

During the Eagles’ win over the Texans last week at the Linc, Foles got hit in the ribs by Jadeveon Clowney. He left the game for one play before returning and leading the Eagles on a game-winning drive.

This time, he got hurt in the same area while being sacked by Ryan Kerrigan on his second-to-last snap of the game. He went into the locker room and never came back out.

“I’m optimistic,” Foles said. “I feel like we’ll get this thing situated. My goal is to be out there playing.”

Before he got hurt, Foles went 28-for-33 for 221 yards with two TD passes and one interception and a passer rating of 102.1.

Foles’ 84.8 completion percentage is highest in Eagles history. The previous record of 83.3 percent was set by Rodney Peete against the Lions in Week 3 of the 1996 season, when he was 25-for-30.

Along the way, he completed 25 straight passes, tying the NFL record shared by Ryan Tannehill and Philip Rivers.

Doug Pederson didn’t have any information on Foles’ injury: “No update, not yet.”

Foles, who owns the highest postseason passer rating in NFL history, sure didn’t sound like someone who plans on not playing football next week.

“My plan is to get ready to roll,” he said. “That’s my plan. Obviously we still have to look into a lot of different things (Monday), and it’s unfortunate I couldn’t finish the game today, but I want to get this thing going.

“I want to wear that jersey one more time. Hopefully more. All we have guaranteed is this week, so once again being in the moment and taking care of what I have to take care of now. I’m excited we were able to earn one more week.”

Asked whether he would have stayed in the game if it were a playoff game, Foles hesitated and then opted not to answer.

“It’s a hypothetical question that I’m not going to answer, but it was a very good try,” he said with a laugh. “I’m going to do everything I can to get back out there.”

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Darren Sproles can still help Eagles as long as Doug Pederson doesn't get carried away

Darren Sproles can still help Eagles as long as Doug Pederson doesn't get carried away

You probably know the reasons why it didn’t make sense to bring Darren Sproles back like they did on Friday evening. He’s too old. The team needs to get younger. They can’t rely on him to stay healthy. 

How’s this for one reason the Eagles were right to bring him back? 

He can help. 

Yeah, I know Sproles is 36. I know he’s played just nine regular-season games in the last two years. I know he had a minor hamstring injury that turned out to be a not-so-minor hamstring injury last year. 

I also know that the Eagles are better today than they were yesterday. Because as long as Doug Pederson doesn’t get carried way, Sproles can still help the Eagles in 2019. 

That is a key point, though. During his three years as head coach, we’ve seen Pederson at times rely on Sproles a little more than he probably should. If he does that this time around, it might not help. But if the Eagles can settle Sproles into a role where he’s a punt returner and a change-of-pace guy on offense (primarily as a pass-catching threat), this can definitely work. 

Pederson loves Sproles. He hasn’t tried to hide that. At the owners meetings this offseason, when asked about Sproles and the possibility of a return for one more season, Pederson said openly, “I would love to have Darren back.” 

Now that it has happened, it’s up to Pederson to not run his favorite veteran Swiss Army knife into the ground. 

And because the Eagles will enter this season with a former Pro Bowler in Jordan Howard, a second-round pick in Miles Sanders and a Super Bowl hero in Corey Clement also on the roster, it should suppress the temptation to over-play Sproles. 

Sproles will be the Eagles’ punt returner. He can play on third downs. He can be used as a utility-type receiver hybrid on offense. 

I’m thinking somewhere in the range of 8-10 touches max per game is about right.  

Nick Foles got an overwhelming amount of credit for helping the Eagles push their way into the playoffs last season, but Sproles deserves a ton of credit, too. After many had written him off when his severe hamstring injury lingered, Sproles came back in early December and gave the Eagles a spark that helped propel them into the postseason. 

In the last five regular-season games last year, Sproles had 110 rushing yards, 138 receiving yards and three offensive touchdowns. 

The Eagles were 5-1 with him in the regular season (4-1 down the stretch) in 2018 and 6-2 overall. 

And without him, they probably don’t win that Dec. 23 game at home against the Texans. In that one, Sproles became the oldest Eagle ever to have over 100 yards from scrimmage in a game. 

Sproles comes into this season just 162 all-purpose yards behind Tim Brown for fifth in NFL history. If he can stay healthy, he should have no problem easily overtaking Brown in 2019. 

And he might just help the Eagles make another run in the process. 

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Will Zach Ertz be a Hall of Famer?

Will Zach Ertz be a Hall of Famer?

Zach Ertz is the latest in a series of stories looking at the Hall of Fame chances of current or recent Eagles who are still active in the NFL

Friday, July 19: Fletcher Cox
Today: Zach Ertz
Sunday, July 21: DeSean Jackson
Monday, July 22: Jason Kelce
Tuesday, July 23: LeSean McCoy
Wednesday, July 24: Jason Peters
Thursday, July 25: Darren Sproles

Numbers: Has 437 catches for 4,827 yards and 29 touchdowns in his first six seasons.

Postseason numbers: Caught 31 passes for 316 yards and two TDs in six career playoff games, including the game-winning touchdown catch in Super Bowl LII against the Patriots.

Honors: Ertz made his first two Pro Bowls in 2017 and 2018.

Favorite stat: Ertz is the only player in Super Bowl history to catch a fourth-down pass on a game-winning fourth-quarter drive.

Records and rankings 

• Ertz set an NFL record in 2018 with 116 catches, breaking the mark of 110 set in 2012 by Jason Witten.

• Ertz’s 437 receptions are most in NFL history by a tight end in his first six seasons. He broke the record of 434 set from 2010 through 2016 by Jimmy Graham.

• Ertz’s 116 catches broke the Eagles single-season record of 90 set in 2007 by Brian Westbrook.

• Ertz already ranks third in Eagles history in receptions, behind only Harold Carmichael (589) and Pete Retzlaff (452).

• He doesn’t turn 29 until November, but Ertz already ranks 31st in NFL history in career receptions by a tight end. He’s only 153 out of the top 10. At his current rate — 5.8 catches per game since becoming a full-time starter in 2015 — that’s only 26 games away.

Analysis 

Maybe it’s silly to project Ertz as a Hall of Famer before his 29th birthday, but if he can stay healthy and keep stringing together the type of seasons he has been, it’s going to happen.

Since becoming a full-time starter four years ago, Ertz has averaged 86 catches, 914 yards and 5 ½ touchdowns.

If he keeps up that pace for six more years and plays until he’s 34, which most top tight ends are able to do, he’ll have 953 catches, 10,311 yards and 62 TDs after the 2024 season.

Not to mention a game-winning late fourth-quarter TD catch in a Super Bowl.

If he does that, nobody is going to keep him out of Canton.

Verdict: Will be a Hall of Famer.

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