For those of you checking non-stop for updates on the status of injured Eagles – will tight end Zach Ertz (ribs/back) and offensive tackle Lane Johnson (ankle) and running back Miles Sanders (ankle) and cornerback Jalen Mills (ankle) play in Sunday's NFC Wild Card game against Seattle?
The answer: It's just too early to tell. And nobody is going to know for sure until Friday, if then.
Every minute counts here. The Eagles have to prepare for every scenario. And while head coach Doug Pederson has some optimism about a player or two having a chance to suit up against Seattle, he's wise not to commit to anything.
And so he won't. The players were given Monday and Tuesday off – and while they didn't practice, many came in for conditioning and for treatment, to get their bodies back after Sunday's win at MetLife Stadium – and they're going to have a walkthrough practice on Wednesday and a light practice on Thursday. Pederson is continuing his approach of backing off on the physical part of practice at this time of the season and instead is focusing on technique work in the individual and positional portion of practice and mental reps for 11-on-11.
It's a waiting game. Sorry, that's just how it has to be right now. That said, the uncertainty of players and their playing possibilities have the Eagles contemplating all kinds of lineups for Sunday, including …
1. If Johnson can play after missing three games – he was injured after playing 28 snaps in the first game against the Giants on December 9, the Eagles will play either Halapoulivaati Vaitai or Matt Pryor at right guard, in place of Brandon Brooks, next to Johnson. If Johnson can't go, the Eagles would likely go with Big V at right tackle and Pryor, who filled in nicely on Sunday against the Giants when Brooks was injured. Another name to keep an eye on is Nate Herbig, a rookie free agent whom the Eagles kept on the 53-man roster all season. The Stanford product played his first three snaps of the season on offense Sunday against the Giants.
2. Speaking of Herbig, he's one of a group of young offensive linemen Jeff Stoutland likes to develop for the future. Pryor is one of those players, and his after-practice work paid off this season when he played 43 snaps against the Seahawks and 35 snaps against New York. Jordan Mailata is one of those developmental players, but he's on Injured Reserve. Sua Opeta, who started the season on the practice squad, is another, and so is No. 1 draft pick Andre Dillard, who has played 346 snaps this season and lately has been used as a tackle-eligible extra blocker.
3. At running back, the Eagles are hopeful to have Sanders, but only if he can demonstrate that he has the same kind of burst he had prior to his ankle injury. Jordan Howard is another week healthier after playing just one snap against the Giants. Boston Scott is healthy. And the Eagles added Elijah Holyfield from Carolina's practice squad (he's the 14th player plucked from a practice squad to the Eagles' active roster this season), but Holyfield is more of a developmental running back. The Eagles have liked Holyfield for a long time and worked him out prior to the 2019 NFL Draft. He gained 79 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries in the preseason after running a terrible 40-yard dash time at the NFL Combine. At 215 pounds, Holyfield is a physical, relentless kind of player who might develop into a nice complement in the backfield in the future. Assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley continues to do great work with his stable of backs here.
4. Why Shelton Gibson, added on Wednesday after spending the season on Cleveland's practice squad (making Gibson the 15th practice squad player added to this roster during the course of the season)? Gibson knows the offense well enough that he can come in and run routes in practice. He has some speed, which the Eagles are always looking to add. If he suits up for Sunday's game, Gibson can help as a core special teams player. With a roster spot open due to Brooks' season-ending injury, the Eagles wanted to take another look at Gibson.
5. At cornerback, with the uncertainty surrounding Mills and cornerback Avonte Maddox, who was limited to only 19 snaps against the Giants because of injury, the nature of which was not disclosed, the Eagles have options. First of all, head coach Doug Pederson said on Monday that he expected Maddox to be available for Sunday. That's important. We still don't know about Mills, who missed the New York game. Cre'Von LeBlanc filled in nicely, as did Sidney Jones. Rasul Douglas is good to go and will probably see a lot of big rookie wide receiver DK Metcalf.
Sorry, but patience is important here and every minute of treatment counts. The Eagles won't know for sure on injuries until we're close to kickoff.