After six weeks of maybes and what-ifs, the Eagles are finally getting a major offensive weapon back. Jordan Howard will play on Sunday for the first time since Nov. 3.
Howard passed the last remaining health hurdle when team doctors cleared him for contact. The bruising rusher was back on the practice field on Friday — the Eagles held their final tune-up at Lincoln Financial Field instead of their practice facility — and will be integrated into the offense in a more limited role than normal.
According to head coach Doug Pederson, Howard will be used as a third-down and situational-type of running back against the Giants. He’ll be backing up both Miles Sanders and Boston Scott.
“The challenge is we’ve been planning [for the Giants] with Miles and Boston [Scott], and Jordan gives us a third back, situational guy,” Pederson told reporters, via ESPN. “We understand who he is.
“But as far as the conditioning and the game shape and being ready, you just can’t give him a full complement of plays. And we don’t necessarily want to disrupt what we’ve got going, but he is a big piece, obviously, to our offense.”
Howard has rushed for 525 yards on 119 carries this season, with an insane 4.4 yards per carry. He could be a lethal goal-line vulture this week, plus an immovable object on 4th-and-1.
The decision to give the former Pro-Bowl running back a diminished role sounds disrespectful at first — except for the fact that Sanders has been so unstoppable. The rookie has 1,276 yards from scrimmage and 1,590 all-purpose yards.
Eagles Switch It Up, Practice at Lincoln Financial Field
Doug Pederson has long been a masterful and innovative motivator for his men. A few weeks ago, the Eagles coach instituted a full padded practice as a way to wake the team up. It worked.
On Friday, Pederson decided to move practice from their usual outdoor practice field at the NovaCare Complex across the street to the stadium, on the turf at Lincoln Financial Field.
According to Pederson, the conditions at the practice facility weren’t up to standards due to some “cold nights.” The fields were too firm, too hard. Instead, he wanted them to “get on land” and soak in the playoff-like atmosphere.
“Our fields back here, we’ve had some cold nights. I want the guys outside number one,” Pederson said. “And number two, we’ve had some cold nights so our ground is a little bit firm out back, and over there we have the good field, the good turf, so I want to get them outside and running around.”
Time will tell if Pederson’s mind games end up working. The coach said he wouldn’t change his message to the team. They know what’s at stake this week. The Eagles don’t want to limp into the playoffs — win out and earn that NFC East crown.
“My message does not change. It’s go about our business the way we’ve been going about our business,” Pederson told reporters. “It’s a 1-0 mentality each week. It’s how we prepare during the week and really staying humble through the whole thing and understanding what got us here, how we got here and what has transpired in the last couple weeks. And we just have to continue to get better and hang tough, battle and find ways to win.”
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