PHILADELPHIA - Eagles coach Doug Pederson and his staff had meetings on Christmas afternoon in preparation for the New York Giants on Sunday, a game the Eagles need to win if they hope to extend their season into the playoffs.
“Still focused on the game plan and preparing for (Thursday) and the rest of the week,” said Pederson on Thursday. “It’s hard to separate right now because you’re right in the mix.”
Pederson isn’t sure exactly which players he will have to prepare with, yet.
Tight end Zach Ertz has a fractured rib and won’t practice on Thursday, running back Jordan Howard will see the team doctors later Wednesday afternoon to see if he can get cleared for contact, and right tackle Lane Johnson won’t practice on Thursday but will go through the pre-practice walkthrough.
Here’s what Pederson had to say about each player:
On Ertz: “Nothing new,” said Pederson. “Rib injury. He is progressing and getting better, so we’ll keep monitoring him each day.”
The coach said that he had a broken rib at one point and “there’s discomfort. It’s not fun. We’ll make sure he’s ready before we put him back out there.”
Ertz is the team’s leading receiver with 88 catches for 916 yards and six touchdowns. Dallas Goedert will have to rise to challenge if Ertz cannot play, and the team would also rely on recently signed Richard Rodgers and former practice squad player Josh Perkins.
“Obviously (Ertz) has to feel good, feel right,” said Pederson. “You try to anticipate banging him around a little bit, just seeing the discomfort there if there is any, but at the same time, again, trying to just make sure that if things go well according to what we hope is our plan then he would possibly ready for next week.”
On Howard: “The hope is he gets cleared maybe this afternoon,” said Pederson.
Howard hasn’t played since Nov. 3 against his former team, the Chicago Bears. He suffered what was called a shoulder stinger and has been limited in practice since then, but unable to endure any contact.
“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,” said Pederson. “We got to make sure he’s in game ready shape, first of all, so there’s some conditioning that’s involved with that.”
With Howard out, Miles Sanders has become the team’s workhorse and the rookie has responded well. Sanders has pushed himself into the Offensive Rookie of the Year conversation with 1,590 all-purpose yards, which is sixth most in the NFL.
“I honestly don’t think much has to change (offensively with Howard’s return),” said Pederson. “I think Jordan is a piece to the puzzle. I think he can add depth, but Miles has been sort of the hot hand here lately and we want to continue that.”
Pederson added that Boston Scott’s role won’t decrease, either. Scott has 579 all-purpose yards since being promoted from the practice squad on Oct. 11.
“Boston Scott’s done enough to be involved,” said Pederson. “You still go in with Miles and Boston. It goes back to Jordan just kind of getting caught up and I think more so physically getting back to game shape.”
On Johnson: “He’s trending in the right direction,” said Pederson. “He’s actually feeling better, doing well.”
Johnson has missed the last two games after suffering a high-ankle sprain in the overtime win against the New York Giants nearly three weeks ago.
Reserve Halapoulivaati Vaitai has filled in for Johnson during his absence.
“He’s done really well,” said Pederson about Johnson’s replacement. “He has really settled into that role at the right tackle spot. Because he’s isolated on one spot, he can focus in on one spot, and it’s really helped him as opposed to getting reps on both side and kind of bouncing back and forth.
"He’s done a really nice job the last couple of weeks. It’s been really good to have him as a backup, situational role player for us.”