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Doug Pederson talks Eagles’ plan for the running back rotation with Jordan Howard potentially returning

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Plus, the Eagles’ head coach talks Giants prep and more.

Eagles’ head coach Doug Pederson spoke to the media on Thursday ahead of practice, and gave some (promising?) injury updates, but there are still a lot of question marks heading into Sunday’s game against the Giants. Pederson also talked about the Eagles crowd he expects, and what they’re seeing from the Giants heading into their Week 17 matchup.

Here’s what the head coach had to say:

Injury updates

Zach Ertz

Ertz has a rib injury and is progressing and getting better. They’ll continue to monitor him, but he wasn’t going to practice on Thursday and still needs to be cleared.

“I had one of these one time and there is discomfort. It is not fun. We are going to make sure he is ready before we put him back out there.”

With Ertz uncertain, the Eagles brought tight end Richard Rodgers back and Pederson said that they’d be comfortable getting him in the mix right away.

“He’s in great shape. He’s been working out. He feels good. His recall of our offense and terminology has been really good this week. Had the Tuesday get-together there with the team, and his recall was really good.

He’s been studying the last couple of days, so I have no hesitation putting him in. It would be a limited capacity, but no hesitation, if need be, to put him in the game.”

Jordan Howard

They are going to continue to monitor Jordan Howard, as well. The running back was not cleared for contact ahead of Thursday’s practice, was going to reassessed by the doctors later in the day, with the hopes he gets cleared.

“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.”

Pederson said that should Howard be ready to go on Sunday, he’ll jump right back into the running back rotation, but not much will change with Miles Sanders having the hot hand lately. He also noted that Boston Scott has done enough to still be involved

“I think you still go in with Miles and Boston. Again, it goes back to Jordan just getting caught up, and I think more so physically getting back to game shape.”

Lane Johnson

Johnson is trending in the right direction and he’s felling better. The tackle wasn’t going to practice Thursday, but was doing the walk-thru stuff and they’ll see where he is at the end of the day.

Pederson was asked about how Big V has done in Johnson’s place, and the head coach said he’s done really well.

“He’s really kind of settled into that role at the right tackle spot the more reps he takes. Because he’s isolated in one spot now, he can focus on one spot and it’s really helped him, as opposed to getting reps on both sides and kind of bouncing back and forth.”

On the team’s energy

Pederson agreed with some of the guys in the locker room about the padded practice a few weeks ago sort of refocusing the players. The head coach said that it was also due to the circumstances they’ve faced to close the season

“So, I think there has been a sense of urgency. It’s picked up. Maybe it has stemmed from that week, but I think what the guys are seeing and understanding is how they’re playing together as a football team right now and coming together that way and playing our best football of the season obviously at this time.”

But, his messaging hasn’t changed over the past few weeks, especially now as they control their own destiny. They still focus on going 1-0, and aren’t looking ahead.

On WRs and the Practice Squad

Deontay Burnett got the bump from the practice squad this week because he’s the one with actual game experience. Pederson said that they obviously feel comfortable with him and his skillset, especially with the role they need at this time.

“He’s not a real big guy, but he’s quick and elusive; has good hands; strong to the ball; smart. He has only been here a short period of time but understands his role and what we’re trying to get done with him.”

The head coach was also asked about how they evaluate the players on the practice squad, and how they get a sense of when they’re ready to contribute.

“I think the first thing that I look at is our developmental program that we spend time on Wednesdays and Fridays after practice with these guys. The assistant coaches preparing them not only through that drill work, but also during the week.

These guys have actually had to take reps with the offense and the defense and on special teams whether they’re promoted or not because just the way our injury situation has played out. So, it does make it a little bit easier to promote a guy because he’s been working with our guys.”

On facing the Giants

Pederson said that they are hoping for a really good crowd with the proximity of North Jersey, they would hope Eagle Nation would make the drive and be a part of the game.

“It’s exciting for us because of what we’re playing for obviously. It’s always exciting to play in front of our fans, but even on the road, when our guys feel our fans in the stadium, it just energizes them and gives them a little more juice to play.”

The Giants have put up 36 and 41 points over the past two weeks, and Pederson said that obviously they are efficient offensively — and Eli Manning and Daniel Jones were each responsible for one of those big games. Plus, the head coach noted that Saquon Barkley looks to be healthy, so they’ve got a lot of weapons.

Defensively, Pederson said it’s pretty much the same group they faced a few weeks ago, minus Janoris Jenkins, but that the Giants have a good, young secondary and a big, physical defensive front.

“I would say right now the way they’re playing is not an indication of their record. They’re playing a lot better than that and it’s a good test for us going into Week 17.”