Expect two key Eagles offensive starters back on the field at full tilt. Or as close to 100% healthy as they can possibly be at this point. Miles Sanders and Lane Johnson met with reporters on Friday and proclaimed they are both good to go for Sunday’s divisional showdown against the Giants. Sanders is “ready to get back and stack these wins up.”
The second-year running back out of Penn State has been sidelined the past four weeks with a bum knee. Sanders explained he got hurt at the end of that bizarre 74-yard run versus Baltimore after Ravens safety DeShon Elliott landed awkwardly on his leg. He fumbled the ball and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside scooped it up for a touchdown.
“Honestly it happened so fast, but I think it was the run, just an awkward tackle,” Sanders told reporters on Friday. “He landed on my knee and twisted it in an awkward position, but I’m back to normal and I feel good. I’m ready to get back and stack these wins up.”
Sanders emphasized that he’s been sticking with his conditioning — something Doug Pederson brought up as a concern early in the year — and pushing himself in rehab sessions. The 23-year-old has enjoyed a great week of practice this week while staying “locked in” during team meetings. He studied the gameplan from the first Giants game, including asking advice from fill-in starter Boston Scott.
“I feel like I haven’t missed a step or beat or anything like that,” Sanders said. “Practice has been going well, the whole week, just trying to finish up strong today and tomorrow and we’ll see what happens on Sunday.”
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Johnson Commits to Wearing Knee Brace
Johnson has been in and out of the lineup all year while battling ankle and knee injuries. He has mostly tried to play through the pain but the swelling was too unbearable when he woke up the morning of the Cowboys game in Week 8.
He sat that one out and then used the bye week to heal up. The All-Pro right tackle expects to “play and function” this week against the Giants.
“I think the bye week was big for me, as far as the best that it’s been,” Johnson said of his injured ankle. “It’s been pretty limited, the pain and swelling. But, yeah, it’s probably something I’m going to have to deal with for the rest of the year. As long as I’m not feeling as much pain as I was in the beginning, then I’ll be fine. I’ll be able to play through it.”
Johnson has been a limited participant at practice all week. Don’t read too much into that, according to Doug Pederson. The three-time Pro Bowler revealed the reason his ankle swelled up was due to a Giants player landing on it awkwardly in Week 7. He had the ankle drained and it’s improved a lot.
“Really, it’s just been frustrating more than anything, having to miss games,” Johnson said. “But it’s mostly how your body responds and this week’s probably been the best week, as far as practice, that I’ve done. So that’s been positive.”
Johnson’s other ailment, a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his knee, hasn’t been bothering him — although the 310-pounder promised to wear a knee brace for the rest of the season. He’s doing it under advisement from Tra Thomas, the legendary Eagles left tackle from yesteryear.
Alshon Jeffery Expected to Play
Another key starter coming back is Alshon Jeffery. The one-time Pro Bowl receiver has been out for nearly a year while rehabbing from Lisfranc surgery on his foot, plus a nagging calf injury sustained in practice a few weeks ago.
Jeffery will have a role on Sunday, per Pederson, but it’s likely to be a limited one as he gets integrated back into the offense. There will be a definitive plan in place.
“As a staff, we have to be smart if he’s ready to go,” Pederson said. “I don’t want to crush Alshon physically.”
Rookie Jalen Reagor dropped some inside knowledge on Thursday when he told reporters that Jeffery was indeed coming back.
“We’re not just getting him back,” Reagor said. “We’re getting a great player back and obviously you guys know that.”
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