Philadelphia Eagles News

Doug Pederson Expects Lane Johnson, Darren Sproles To Play vs. Cowboys

Head coach Doug Pederson met with the media Wednesday for the first time in more than a week following the bye and offered several updates on injured Eagles ahead of Sunday's game against Dallas.

Running back Darren Sproles, who hasn't played since Week 1 due to a hamstring injury, will practice this week and "the expectation is that he will play." Special teams coordinator Dave Fipp said Sproles will be the punt returner in his first game back. Pederson added that Sproles will also be a big part of the offensive game plan.

"We need to make sure as this week goes that he's healthy, 100 percent," Pederson said. "He feels great. We're going to just mix him in. ... It's a great opportunity for him."

Right tackle Lane Johnson, who left the Eagles' game against the Jaguars early with a knee injury, is also practicing this week on a limited basis with the goal to play Sunday. Pederson said they are being cautious with his health but are excited with how quickly he's battled through the injury.

"Lane's a tough guy, now," Pederson said. "He is a tough guy. In his mind, I think he would want to play and our expectation is that he does."

The Eagles are also dealing with a banged-up secondary. Pederson said that safety Corey Graham, who missed the last three games with a hamstring injury, will practice this week with an evaluation planned for the end of the week to determine his game status.

Nickel cornerback Sidney Jones, however, is "different" and will continue to be evaluated every day with his hamstring injury. Cornerback Jalen Mills will also be evaluated every day but could be a "touch longer" with his foot injury. Against a talented corps of Dallas receivers, the Eagles' secondary will be tested if Jones and Mills cannot go.

"This is a team that has a lot of weapons," Pederson said. "Amari Cooper now is going into a couple more weeks of practice. ... This a tough matchup. Again, NFC East, it's a great opportunity for us."

Defensive tackle Tim Jernigan, who was on the field for Monday's walkthrough but not given a timetable by defensive line coach Chris Wilson on Tuesday, is day to day. Pederson does not believe he will play Sunday but is optimistic about his progress.

"We're going to bring him slowly, day by day," Pederson said. "He hasn't done anything football-wise for a long time so we just want to see where he is health-wise here each day."

In practice Wednesday, Mills and Jones did not participate. Center Jason Kelce did not either but for a reason that was not injury related. Graham, Johnson, and Sproles were limited as was linebacker Nathan Gerry who missed the last three games with ankle and knee injuries. Linebacker Kamu Grugier Kill (thumb) and tackle Jason Peters (biceps) were both full participants.

Wednesday was also the first full practice for wide receiver Golden Tate. The newest Eagle added at the deadline has crammed to learn the offense in time to play Sunday and quarterback Carson Wentz, who also met with the media Wednesday, is focused on establishing chemistry right away.

"Obviously, adding a piece like that is exciting," Wentz said. "Getting to know him off the field just a little bit, I'm definitely excited to work with him and I think he fits in really well with this culture and he's going to help us for sure."

Pederson said he is making sure there are plays for Tate in the offense. If he's up to speed, Tate could be a major weapon in a crucial game to begin the second half of the season.

"He's been in here every day," Pederson said. "Trying to get him caught up to some of our terminology, the way we call things, how we line up, but he's been awesome."

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