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Doug Pederson gives encouraging updates on Darren Sproles and Lane Johnson

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Plus, the head coach talks about what the Eagles-Cowboys rivalry means to him and the fans.

The Eagles return to practice on Wednesday and will start preparing for their second NFC East matchup of the season on Sunday in primetime.

Head coach Doug Pederson didn’t have many injury updates last time he spoke to the media, but coming off the bye and early-week walk-throughs, had a bit more to say before the team hit the field — including about the team’s new wide receiver, Golden Tate.

Injury updates and personnel decisions

  • Darren Sproles is back at practice this week and the hope (and expectation) is that he’ll be ready to play on Sunday — but he’s still considered day-to-day. Should Sproles not be able to play, Pederson wouldn’t divulge who the returner would be now that they’ve released DeAndre Carter, but he did say they have a backup plan in place if that ends up being the case. If Sproles is back on Sunday, he’ll be a big part of their game plan.
  • Lane Johnson will practice, he may be a little limited, but he will be out on the field, and as of now they are expecting him to play on Sunday — but he’s another one they’ll evaluate day-by-day. Pederson said Johnson is a tough guy and even though his injury usually sidelines players for a couple of weeks, he’s the kind of guy who wants to be on the field and the coaches as of now are expecting him to be ready.
  • Pederson expects Corey Graham to get some practice time this week and they’ll see where he’s at by week’s end. He admitted though that Sidney Jones is a little bit of a different story, and he’s more day-to-day, but is doing well in his rehab process.
  • The head coach also talked about Timmy Jernigan and said that he’s still taking things day-by-day, even with returning to practice this week, and that the good thing is they have a couple weeks with him to get him back on the field so they aren’t in a position to have to rush things.
  • Jalen Mills will be evaluated and is day-by-day at this point, he might be out a touch longer than this week, but they’ll see as they get closer to Sunday.

On Golden Tate addition

Pederson pointed out that Tate has been in the building every single day, and that the coaches are all keeping him busy with working on how they call things and how they line up, but he noted Tate has been “awesome” since the signing.

The head coach talked about evaluating Tate as both a player and a person, and then of course looking at how he might fit into the Eagles’ offense. They went back and watched some of the routes he was running in Detroit and film from when he was in Seattle, and they felt comfortable bringing him in and adding some depth to the receiver position.

Pederson admitted that figuring out how to get both Tate and Nelson Agholor on the field at the same time and how they compliment each other is the challenge for the coaches. He went on to talk about the two players’ skill sets, mentioning Agholor has great straight-line speed and is a good route-runner, and that Tate is similar in those ways, but is maybe more of a short-to-intermediate type of guy.

So, while they do have similar styles, they can still be used a little bit differently.

He was then asked if he felt pressure to add to the receiver depth with the way NFL offense’s seem to be evolving. Pederson talked about reviewing all potential DB and pass rushing options, and then also having to compare what’s available with what they’d have to give up. The head coach tipped his hat to Howie Roseman to that point and said the GM does a great job and is someone Pederson trusts in those situations.

Pederson also pointed to work for the coaches to try and figure out how they will implement and integrate someone new at any position.

Later, he was asked is adding Golden Tate will help them spread the field a bit more and maybe run some different sets. Pederson said it helps, and while they still have to worry about protection it does add some depth and explosive opportunities.

He went on to say that they’ve tried to be a little more aggressive down the field the past couple of weeks, and that’s opened up some things for the offense as well.

On Dallas prep

Pederson was asked what the Eagles-Cowboys rivalry means to him, and with a grin, said it’s an exciting rivalry.

“It’s two really great franchises, obviously, great teams. It’s always exciting.”

He said it’s always a week filled with a lot of energy, and it’s a division opponent so it’s always an important game, too. Pederson went on to talk about his time as a player in Philadelphia and remembers what that matchup means to the city and to the fans.

“I expect all of our fans to be rocking The Linc on Sunday night.”

Later on, he talked about how Dallas defensively is a really good football team, they’re good up front and on third downs.

From an offensive standpoint, the Eagles understand what kind of weapon Ezekiel Elliott is for them and that he’s tough to bring down, but someone they have to stop. He also talked about their new addition of Amari Cooper and noted that Dak Prescott can beat you with his legs if he doesn’t have a passing option.