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Doug Pederson gives injury updates on Darren Sproles, Jalen Mills, others

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The head coach said Darren Sproles will be back in a limited capacity this week in practice.

With an extra day before having to speak to reporters, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson was all smiles when he took the podium on Thursday.

He talked a bit about injuries and where guys are in their rehab process, and then turned his attention to Washington and admitted he thinks Monday night’s game will be a playoff-like atmosphere.

Here’s what the head coach had to say ahead of Thursday’s practice:

Injury Updates

Jalen Mills, Avonte Maddox and Jordan Hicks are probably the furthest away from coming back among the very long list of injured players, but Mills and Maddox are a little bit closer than Hicks.

The other guys, like Sidney JonesDarren Sproles included — were expected to get some work at Thursday’s practice. They’re still considered day-to-day so they’ll mix them in a bit but don’t want to rush them back either.

Pederson was asked about this being Sproles’ last year before retirement and what it means to the running back to get back on the field. The head coach emphasized that the veteran rusher wants to be on the field so badly, and that it’ll be nice to get him some work at practice on Thursday, even if it’s in a limited capacity. Pederson went on to say that regardless of what happens after this season, that Sproles is a heck of a competitor and a leader for the team.

Later on, Pederson was asked about Mack Hollins and Mike Wallace, and the head coach said they are both doing well but aren’t there yet in terms of ready to return from IR. He said they still have a little bit of time, but they haven’t made a decision yet — although his face did not seem encouraged.

Pederson was also asked having Richard Rodgers back and what that means for the 3-TE sets, and the head coach said it was nothing against Josh Perkins, but Rodgers provides a big of a bigger body, and along with Dallas Goedert opens up some receiving options for Zach Ertz.

On the Washington game

Pederson was asked about Adrian Peterson, and the head coach said that he’s an exciting, veteran player to watch. He continued to say that Peterson is a very aggressive runner, and he gives Washington a run game that they need to defend, but that it’s impressive he’s still playing at a high level.

He was asked about what he expects from the crowd in a must-win, Monday night event, and Pederson said he hopes and expects a great crowd and to get a win. He went on to say that “our crowd has been tremendous all season, whether we’re at home or on the road,” and that Monday’s game is going to have an electric atmosphere.

Pederson continued to point out that the players feed off the fans energy, and they’re just going to try and get the job done. He even went as far as to say it’s going to be a playoff-type atmosphere with both teams still fighting for that.

Later, Pederson was asked about Nate Sudfeld and how much the former Washington player was able to help as they prepare for Monday’s game. He noted that Sudfeld can help a bit from a defensive perspective and what they tend to do schematically.

On the strength of the OL/DL last week

Pederson said it was encouraging to see the offensive and defensive lines kind of lead the way in their Week 12 win over the Giants.

He continued to talk about how they are always emphasizing controlling the line of scrimmage and/or stopping the run game, and that it was good to see the defensive line take over in the second half of that game.

Offensively, he said that the rest of the guys build momentum as the game wore on.

Later, Pederson was asked about the dip in sacks from Brandon Graham this season, but the head coach pointed out he was one of the guys who had to work himself back from injury. He went on to say that it took Graham a few games to get fully back in the swing of things and get his confidence back, and that he’s more productive at this point in the season — and disruptive in the pocket — even if it isn’t showing on the stat line.

On lack of deep passes

The head coach was asked what he attributed to the lack of deep balls this season compared to both the rest of the league and to the Eagles production last season. Pederson noted that the first thing you have to look at is protection, because the quarterback needs time to look down field.

He went on to say that he tries to build one in at least once a quarter, and that it’s a good way to back the defenders up so they don’t see as many 7- or 8-man boxes and open up the run game. But he did say they are continuing to work on and are going to try and take more shots down field.

Pederson did follow up and say that he didn’t think the lack of production deep was due to anything personnel wise — whether that be losing Mike Wallace or performances by the healthy receivers — and put the onus more on execution and protection.

On the run game

RB coach Duce Staley said on Wednesday that the team is still utilizing the running-back by committee approach, and Pederson echoed that. He noted that they’ll have to see where Sproles is at the end of the week, but that Josh Adams has the hot hand right now.

As he’s said in the past, the head coach was sure to compliment Corey Clement and Wendell Smallwood for their contributions on special teams as well, and even noted that their roles are bigger in terms of a game plan standpoint.

Pederson did say that Josh Adams will go in as the starter — and admitted there’s no hiding that — and they’ll continue to mix in the other guys.

Later, the head coach noted that Adams is making good strides in all three areas he needs to, including: protection, receiving and running the football. Pederson said that he’s getting incrementally better at each and he thinks the more integrated Adams is, the more comfortable and explosive he’ll be.

On Carson Wentz

Pederson was asked about Carson Wentz making plays with his legs, and the head coach said that they need more of those type of plays, particularly on third downs.

He said Wentz’s injury didn’t change their game plan with regard to his escaping the pocket to move the chains, but rather the opportunities haven’t been there as often this season.

There’s been a lot of speculation recently that Wentz is still working to come back from his injury, and isn’t 100% as evidenced by him not fully stepping with the left leg on throws. Pederson said that isn’t something he’s seen from the quarterback.