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Philadelphia Eagles News

5 storylines to follow on Tuesday night

Head Coach Nick Sirianni delivered some encouraging news on Friday when he updated the condition of quarterback Jalen Hurts, saying Hurts had a "full" practice at Lincoln Financial Field and that he was "hopeful" that Hurts would be ready to go against Washington. Hurts was also a full participant on Sunday as the Eagles have a few extra days of preparation ahead of Tuesday night's showdown. Both teams will provide the game status report on Monday.

"He's trending in the right direction and we're hopeful," Sirianni said on Friday. "If he's going, it's because he's healthy enough to go. He had a lot of the reps (Friday) and he looked good in the workout he did beforehand. I feel pretty confident and really good about where he's at right now. I'm excited about where we're at."

More good injury news for the Eagles: Running backs Miles Sanders (ankle) and Jordan Howard (knee) were both full participants at the "full-go Friday" practice and Sirianni said both were on track to play against the Washington Football Team.

"They're ready to roll and we're excited to have them both back out on the field to lead our rushing attack," Sirianni said.

The bye week and the treatment the players had throughout the days off clearly paid off, as the Eagles are a much healthier team now than they've been in recent weeks. That's encouraging news for a team that faces four NFC East games to conclude the regular season, with a playoff spot very much in the offing. At 6-7, the Eagles are among the teams "in the mix" for one of the conference's seven postseason positions.

Health is one of the key storylines for Tuesday night's game, particularly with the Eagles' offensive backfield picture and the ongoing COVID-19 situation that has seen Washington place more than 20 players on the reserve list, including quarterback Taylor Heinicke. Some others to think about as these teams meet for the first time in 2021 ...

1. Ryan Kerrigan against his former team

One of the great pass rushers in the NFL for the last decade, Ryan Kerrigan is 13 games into his Eagles career after recording 95.5 quarterback sacks in 10 seasons with Washington. Sunday's game is his first against his former team, and Kerrigan said there is no emotion leading into it other than wanting to win the football game.

"It will be cool to see some old friends and whatnot, but this is ultimately about the Eagles and Washington," he said. "It's a significant game as far as both teams going forward."

Kerrigan said he won't have to "check any emotions" for Tuesday. "We're 14 games into this," he said. "There's no more of any of that. It's all about playing ball and hopefully getting this win."

After missing most of Training Camp with a broken thumb and then spending much of the regular season playing with a protective splint, Kerrigan has not had the production he is accustomed to having. That hasn't changed his approach, though. He has continued to work hard and play with great effort and Kerrigan has been close at times to making big plays. That's how thin the margin is in the NFL.

"I'm not deterred. I'm still working. Four games left and I'm hoping to be productive for this team down the stretch and be a difference-maker," he said.

2. WR Terry McLaurin is a huge handful for the defense

One of the best wide receivers in the game, Terry McLaurin has had some success against every team and the Eagles are no exception. In four games, while compiling a 2-2 record, McLaurin has 22 receptions for 356 yards and three touchdowns against Philadelphia.

And he has the respect of everyone on the defense.

"High-volume guy, man," cornerback Darius Slay said. "Every rep, he's trying to go as hard as he can. He competes every play and that's what you want against a guy you're going against. That's why he gets all the attention that he gets because he competes at a high level. He's a good kid."

McLaurin suffered a concussion last week against the Cowboys, but has increased his participation throughout the week leading up to the game.

3. Preparing for the unknown

Who is playing quarterback for Washington? Who is lining up at defense? With the roster movement ever-changing on Washington's depth chart for this team, the Eagles have to prepare for everyone. And that's exactly what they've been doing with the help of an outstanding video department that has made sure the coaching staff and the players have been able to watch film on every possible player who may play on Tuesday for the Football Team.

"Our video department has everything of what we need to see. Again, you always want to prepare obviously for the scheme that you're playing against, but then obviously the players that you're playing. It's always about the players and their talents and what they do," Sirianni said. "So obviously we have done a lot of homework of getting that information. We got great guys – like I said, our video department has cut-ups of everybody. Every play they've ever played, any play they've ever played on this situation, any play they've ever played on the left hash, right hash.

"I mean, you can pretty much sort anything you want, which is different than obviously when my dad was coaching, they had to splice the tape, cut the tape, do all that on the reels. We have a lot of abilities here to do that, and so – which I'm very thankful for. And so, yeah, we really have an opportunity to watch any player however we need to watch them because of the video department we got."

4. The run game – it's a big part of Sunday's matchup

Philadelphia, of course, leads the NFL in rushing yards per game at 160 and the Eagles have been especially potent in the last six weeks. Washington also runs it well with Antonio Gibson's power and elusiveness. Washington struggled running the ball last week against Dallas and found itself in a 24-0 halftime hole. Expect the Washington offense to try to establish the ground attack on Sunday.

"That's what they do," linebacker T.J. Edwards said. "They're physical and they run the ball well and they stick with it, so it's something we have to be ready for."

Since Week 8, the Eagles have allowed only 81.8 yards per game on the ground to rank third in the NFL during that span.

Washington's defense ranks fifth in NFL against the run, allowing just 93.6 yards per game. In the last three outings, Washington has permitted only 77.3 yards per game.

On Sunday, the Eagles placed starting left guard Landon Dickerson on the Reserve/COVID-19 list, so that will be a situation to monitor for Tuesday night. Dickerson has started the past 10 games at left guard and formed a promising duo with tackle Jordan Mailata.

5. What's at stake

It's huge, right? Both teams are 6-7 and finishing out the regular season in the division. While it's going to be very difficult for either team to catch Dallas (now 10-4 after beating the Giants on Sunday), the expanded playoff field is very much open.

And that has everybody excited.

"We know that we have to win," linebacker Alex Singleton said. "That's just how it is. We understand the importance of this game and of every game, so our mindset is to go out there and play our best football. We're back from the bye week and everybody is eager to get back on the field and play some football and get back into the flow of things. So, yeah, the stakes are high. We all know that and our level of focus has been intense this week."

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