Darren Sproles is on track to play Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys, which would be the veteran running back’s first game action since he injured a hamstring in the season opener all the way back on Sept. 6.
The news was also good for right tackle Lane Johnson. Initial reports indicated that a sprained MCL may keep Johnson out for a couple of weeks, but head coach Doug Pederson expects Johnson to play against the Cowboys.
“Expecting him to play, yes,” said Pederson, prior to Wednesday afternoon's practice. “Lane’s a tough guy, now. He is a tough guy. In his mind I think he would want to play and our expectation is that he does play, but at the same time, I say that, I say hey, I don’t want to put somebody out there that might be less than 100 percent, too. We’ll get him ready, we’ll get each of our guys ready like we do each week. The expectation will be that he plays.”
The coach said both players may be limited during the week.
Sproles was used heavily in the season opener. Pederson isn’t sure yet if his role will be as big as it was back in September.
“We have to make sure as this week goes that he’s healthy, 100 percent,” said Pederson. “He feels great, but, yeah, we’re going to just mix him in. I think we’re a different team from week one to now. … I can’t tell you we’re going to feature Darren, I can’t tell you that we’re going to feature Josh (Adams) or any of those (running backs), but Darren will be a big part of the game.”
Safety Corey Graham, who missed three games with a hamstring injury, is also expected to return to practice, but cornerback Sidney Jones is still day-to-day.
If Jones cannot play, the Eagles will need to figure out what to do at slot cornerback. Dexter McDougle was waived during the bye week, so Graham could step in and start at safety with rookie Avonte Maddox moving from safety back into the slot. Maybe even Cre-Von LeBlanc, who was signed on Monday, sees some snaps in the slot.
The secondary may also be without Jalen Mills, who injured a foot against the Jacksonville Jaguars.
“We’ll evaluate him day by day,” said Pederson. “He might be a touch longer, but he’s coming and we’ll see where he is at the end of the week.”
If Mills cannot play, Rasul Douglas will likely step in.
In other injury news, defensive tackle Tim Jernigan doesn’t sound like he will be ready to play on Sunday. Jernigan, who is on the PUP list was cleared to return to practice this week after offseason back surgery.
“We’re going to bring him slowly, day by day,” said Pederson. “We have time with him. We don’t have to do anything right now, have a couple weeks with him. So each day give him more and more. He hasn’t done anything football wise for a long time, just want to see where he’s at health-wise each day.”