The Eagles created roster space in anticipation of Jordan Howard coming back. However, the running back has still not been cleared for contact.
The last hurdle — and it’s big one as Howard cannot play until he gets cleared for contact — is expected to be removed this afternoon after the Pro Bowler revisits with team doctors.
Howard was the team’s starting running back, and leading rusher, before injuring his shoulder on Nov. 3 but he’s headed for a new role in a completely different Eagles offense. Howard will likely be playing second fiddle to a rookie.
Miles Sanders has taken the league by storm and vaulted himself into the Rookie-of-the-Year conversation after amassing 1,590 all-purpose yards, good enough for seventh-best in the NFL.
The Penn State product has also gained 766 yards strictly on the ground while serving as a dual-threat out of the backfield. He has been so impressive that even guys like LeSean McCoy are congratulating him.
While Howard and Sanders are likely to form a lethal one-two combo, aka Thunder & Lightning, it’s hard to predict which running back will have the bigger role. Head coach Doug Pederson has long been known to ride the hot hand — Sanders in this case — and the coach didn’t shy away from that philosophy when asked about navigating his play-calling.
“I honestly don’t think much has to change. I think Jordan is a piece to the puzzle,” Pederson told reporters. “I think he can obviously add depth, but Miles has been sort of the hot hand lately and we want to keep that going.”
Of course, that is all assuming Howard gets the final clearance to play on Sunday versus New York. That includes checking his conditioning.
“The approach is to continue to monitor him and keep him coming from the standpoint of getting him back into the offense I think mentally and physically,” Pederson said. “We have to make sure he is in game-ready shape first of all, so there is some conditioning involved in that. The biggest thing is just getting him caught up from the mental standpoint.”
In fact, Pederson alluded that Howard may be buried behind Boston Scott on the depth chart. The Darren Sproles clone has provided a shot of adrenaline that the Eagles are addicted to.
“I think you still go in with Miles and Boston,” Pederson said. “Again, it goes back to Jordan just getting caught up, and I think more so physically getting back to game shape.”
Zach Ertz Misses Thursday’s Practice with Rib Injury
It sounds more and more ominous that Zach Ertz will miss Sunday’s game. The Pro-Bowl tight end fractured a rib last week and is day-to-day.
Ertz was excused from Thursday’s practice due to soreness, although head coach Doug Pederson said he is “progressing well.” The coach provided no further update on Ertz’s status except for saying that the tight end needs to be cleared by team doctors before he can return to practice.
Ertz got taped up on the sideline versus Dallas and went back into the game despite being in immense discomfort. He was reportedly wearing a flak jacket after the game and wincing in pain.
“I had one of these [rib injury] one time and there is discomfort. It is not fun,” Pederson said. “We are going to make sure he is ready before we put him back out there.”
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