Monday night’s game is a must-win situation. Doug Pederson has said it. Carson Wentz confirmed it.
The Eagles are going to need all hands on deck to beat the Giants. Unfortunately, they might be missing three key starters, including two big names on defense.
Starting defensive end Derek Barnett (ankle) and linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill (concussion) both missed practice on Thursday afternoon and might be game-time decisions for Monday. Meanwhile, wide receiver Nelson Agholor (knee) also missed the session after his knee flared up on him.
Go ahead and laugh about Agholor missing time (more snaps for Greg Ward, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and maybe Marken Michel). But losing Barnett and Grugier-Hill would be huge losses for the team. Barnett is their second-best pass-rusher with 4.5 sacks, three behind Brandon Graham. And Grugier-Hill is a team captain and arguably their best linebacker.
In addition, Jordan Howard was a limited participant at Thursday’s practice. The running back is still recovering from a stinger/shoulder injury sustained 32 days ago. It’s not considered a season-ending injury, but Howard has shown no signs of improvement since going down on Nov. 3. He still hasn’t been cleared for contact.
Doug Pederson Evaluates Eagles’ Running Game
With Jordan Howard out of the lineup for the foreseeable future, the Eagles need to switch their identity a bit. Howard was more ground-and-pound versus the slashing, explosive play of Miles Sanders.
That doesn’t mean the team can’t rely on the running game, just in a different way.
“And the run game, it does change from week to week based on the structure of defense, too,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “So that changes just a little bit, and really in the last three games the style of defenses and the structure that we faced so that changes as well.”
Pederson was quick to compliment his rookie running back, though. Sanders might look like a Ferrari, but he can run like a Cadillac if they need him to.
Sanders is averaging 4.5 yards per carry this season after rushing for 83 yards last week against Miami. He has carried the ball 116 times for 520 yards while catching 32 balls for 359 yards. Sanders has 1,193 all-purpose yards for the Eagles this season.
“I think one thing you saw this past week with Miles is he’s capable of doing that a little bit,” Pederson said. “He’s a one-cut guy or a jump-cut guy. Make the first guy miss and continue on. He had some really good runs that way.”
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