Head coach Doug Pederson addressed the media Friday ahead of the Eagles' battle against the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night and confirmed that running back Darren Sproles suffered a setback while on the practice field Wednesday.
Pederson said Sproles was 100 percent healthy going into this week before enduring another injury to the same hamstring that has kept him sidelined since Week 1. Pederson acknowledged his disappointment for Sproles but didn't rule out a return for the 35-year-old this season.
"I am optimistic that he can play," Pederson said. "I am. And that's the God's honest truth."
In addition to Sproles, offensive tackle Lane Johnson was expected to play as of Monday as he battles an injury. Pederson confirmed his rehab is going well and he remains on track to play Sunday.
Pederson also said that cornerbacks Sidney Jones and Jalen Mills are progressing well as they recover from injuries and have missed practice this week. Mills, who has a foot injury, will have a longer rehab than Jones and isn't expected to play Sunday. The plan for Jones was to put him through workouts and see if he could possibly go Sunday. On Friday afternoon, he was ruled out.
"Jalen and Sidney are both on track," Pederson said. "We'll continue to monitor both of them."
Jones typically plays at the nickel cornerback spot. Pederson said he would not disclose who plays at nickel if Jones is not healthy enough to play.
The loss of Sproles after the Eagles waived wide receiver DeAndre Carter also means the Eagles need a punt returner. Pederson would not announce who that returner will be this week but did not rule out new wide receiver Golden Tate.
"He's done it and I think he can," Pederson said. "I think it's something that we'll look at, honestly, but it's all part of being asked to do certain things. We just have to be careful with it."
Pederson said Tate has impressed him with his work ethic and the knowledge the veteran has brought into the wide receiver room. Pederson wants to see Tate make plays on Sunday, but he wants to be cautious with the number of snaps he gets.
"I want to be careful that I'm not doing him a disservice by putting him out there with something he's uncomfortable with," Pederson said. "Making sure that we have a nice, tight plan for him is important this week."
Friday afternoon, Mills, Jones, and Sproles all did not practice and were ruled out of Sunday's game. Defensive end Josh Sweat did not practice with an illness and was listed as questionable. Johnson was limited and is questionable as well.
Six Cowboys players will miss Sunday's game including All-Pro linebacker Sean Lee who was hurt in the Cowboys' game Monday against the Titans. In addition to Lee, wide receiver Tavon Austin, defensive end Taco Charlton, defensive lineman David Irving, linebacker Joe Thomas, and guard Connor Williams all will not play Sunday. Defensive end Randy Gregory and tight end Geoff Swaim are questionable.
While the Eagles have dealt with injuries and other issues this week, Pederson said it's important to block out the noise and focus on a crucial game. Both the Eagles and Cowboys desperately need a win in tight NFC East race and Sunday's result could be very meaningful down the stretch.
"I would say we're both in the same boat, quite frankly," Pederson said. "Both teams are looking to win football games. And whether you call it desperation, whether you call it must win, both teams are kind of in that same situation. You can throw out all the articles, you can throw out the records, you can throw out just about everything when it comes to games like this, especially in your division."