Happy Friday, Eagles fans! The Eagles will have their final full practice today ahead of Sunday's battle with the Minnesota Vikings. Head coach Doug Pederson will address the media at 10:15 a.m. and we will stream that for you on PhiladelphiaEagles.com, our app, and our social media channels. Until then, there's plenty to feast on ahead of the big game in our Morning Roundup, presented by Microsoft.
1. Could Jalen Mills return for the Week 7 Cowboys game?
Could more reinforcements be coming at the cornerback position? Sidney Jones remains on track to play Sunday against the Vikings after practicing fully all this week. But Jalen Mills, who has been out since last October with a foot injury, is entering a very important phase of the season.
Placed on the Reserve/Physically Unable to Perform list at the beginning of the season, Mills is eligible to begin practicing next week if he's cleared by the team's medical staff. Once the Green Goblin is given the green light to practice, that opens a 21-day window where Mills can work his way back on the field before the team has to make another decision – place him on the active roster (and make a corresponding roster move) or keep him on the Reserve/PUP list for the remainder of the season.
Mills said on Thursday that it was "always the plan" for him to return for the Week 7 Sunday night showdown in Dallas. But it's not completely in his control.
"It's all about the doctor and what he says," Mills said. "It's just sticking to the plan. They've had a great plan so far. I'm feeling good. Whatever he says I can or can't do, I'm just going to follow."
Mills suffered the foot injury in the win over Jacksonville in London last October 28 and missed the final eight games of the regular season. Mills said the only thing he is unable to do right now is practice.
"I've dealt with adversity before, not even just as far as the football aspect, just my life in general," Mills said. "As far as that goes, it's just keeping a strong mind, strong head. I've got great teammates, great coaches. They keep me into it as well."
The Eagles don't have to open the 21-day practice window next week. They can start it as late as the end of Week 11.
Mills is a physical and instinctive corner who has produced 203 tackles and three interceptions in his first three NFL seasons. He was the starter for the Eagles in the Super Bowl Championship campaign.
2. For Carson Wentz, a homecoming of sorts
It is roughly 462 miles driving distance from Bismarck, North Dakota to Minneapolis, a 6-hour, 10-minute drive, and you can be sure there will be a large gathering of Carson Wentz's friends and family – and fans from his days at North Dakota State – on hand Sunday at U.S. Bank Stadium.
While Wentz won't have time to spend much time, if any at all, with his family given the team's late afternoon arrival on Saturday and the noon kickoff (Minnesota time) on Sunday, he'll know his supporters are in the stands.
"Without a doubt there will be a big contingency of family, friends, and everything. I'm excited that they'll get to see me play live," Wentz said. "I won't get to see them – I'll make sure I get to see them in the offseason and everything – I know they'll have fun cheering me on."
3. Miles Sanders delivers the biggest hit of his career
Center/guard Nate Herbig couldn't help but stop and smile when he heard the question that was posed to rookie running back Miles Sanders.
Sanders was asked about the play from Sunday's win over the Jets where he pancakes cornerback Darryl Roberts, who was rushing quarterback Carson Wentz on a corner blitz.
Sanders noticed from film study that when safety Jamal Adams lined up over the cornerback pre-snap it was a tell that the corner was coming. Sanders scanned to his right before the play just to make sure he wasn't fooled. Roberts blitzed and Sanders waited to gauge how the cornerback would rush the passer. Roberts flew into a brick wall as Sanders just slammed his arms into Roberts' chest and knocked him to the ground. Tackle Jason Peters was there to help, but The Bodyguard wasn't needed on this play.
"JP, he loved it," Sanders said. "Duce (Staley, assistant head coach/running backs), he definitely loved it. He loves when we punish blitzers."
Sanders flattened Roberts to the point where the referee came in at the end of the play to say, "that's enough." Sanders admitted it was the biggest hit that he's ever dished out.
It's one of the ways Sanders has earned playing time this season. It's not all about what the exciting playmaker can do with the ball in his hands.
"I would say go back and watch that tape from Sunday. Miles put the corner right on his back on one of them," offensive coordinator Mike Groh said. "I got a question about Miles in protection a few weeks ago. I would say he's on it and he's up to the challenge. I know he'll be challenged again throughout the course of the season, whether it's this week or the remaining weeks."
Sanders has gained 178 yards on the ground and another 84 receiving in his rookie season.
4. Peyton Manning breaks down Carson Wentz's game
The latest episode of Detail on ESPN+ features future Hall of Fame quarterback Peyton Manning analyzing Carson Wentz's performance in the Week 4 win over the Green Bay Packers. As the name of the show suggests, Manning goes through various plays from the game and offers gems that you usually don't hear during the broadcast. At one point, Wentz took a snap and quickly sidearmed the ball to tight end Zach Ertz for a completion. Manning showed video of him working on throwing balls from different angles or without perfect mechanics, such as quickly picking up a bad snap and releasing it immediately.
Really fascinating stuff if you're into the intricacies of the game. Even Wentz couldn't help but take a peek.
"It's fun watching and listening to Peyton talk football," Wentz said. "He doesn't know our exact play calls, but he's pretty spot on with how he dissects the film and talks about it. It was pretty cool to see kind of an outsider from our offense and our organization break down what we're doing."
One of my favorite observations from Manning was how Wentz routinely likes to adjust his shoulder pads, lick his fingers, and wipe them on the towel before the snap. Manning does a great job of pointing out things that fans have seen time after time again, and explaining their importance.
5. Spadaro shines light on the players who do the dirty work
The plan, says Rudy Ford, is to become a starting NFL safety and the best all-around player he can be. For now, though, Ford has his sights set on the Pro Bowl – as a special teams ace. He is, he says, "making my bones" on special teams and he's doing it as well as anybody in the league as a gunner in the punt cover game.
Do you ever, even for a moment, pay attention to one of the most difficult jobs in the game of football? They're the guys who line up wide on punts, often face double-team blocking, get the snot knocked out of them after the ball is snapped, and then, once they break free from the blocks, have to sprint 50, 60 yards and get to the punt return man in time to halt any progress.
"It's definitely real physical, man. It's like being in the trenches at times especially when you're going against two guys," said Ford, acquired by the Eagles in a trade with Arizona late in the preseason primarily because the Eagles thought he could make a difference on special teams. "It's like being in the 3 technique. You're being double-teamed. Both sides are coming off the ball hard. You have to work your technique, you keep your feet moving, fight off two blocks, and then bust it and get down the field to the punt returner. I love it. I love the challenge."
6. Eagle Eye: Dalvin Cook is the real deal
Fran Duffy's All-22 preview of the Minnesota Vikings focuses a lot on the vaunted defense led by head coach Mike Zimmer. But Duffy looks at what former second-round pick Dalvin Cook has added from the backfield to help balance the offense this season. Cook is second in the league with 542 rushing yards, averaging a gaudy 5.9 per carry.
"The Vikings utilize the stretch zone run game, among other concepts, to either get Cook out in space or allow him to make one cut and get downhill in a hurry," Duffy wrote. "If he gets to the second level uninhibited, watch out, because he's very tough to get a hand on when he gets to top gear. The Eagles have GOT to be stout at the point of attack up front and must set a strong edge to keep him from getting up to the second level of the defense."
7. Andrew Sendejo is not sentimental about facing his former team
Sendejo spent eight seasons with the Minnesota Vikings, but this Sunday's he'll emerge from the visiting locker room at U.S. Bank Stadium. Sendejo's former head coach Mike Zimmer joked on a conference call that the safety will be "singing like a canary" to share the Vikings' secrets this week. Sendejo responded by saying that he sings better than a canary, but otherwise he's all business when it comes to returning to Minnesota.
"You shouldn't be more up for a game than another game," Sendejo said. "Every (game) should get equal treatment. That's how I play it."
8. Devour this amazing sumptuous feast before Sunday's game
If you want to eat what the players eat, check out this week's edition of Devour the Competition. It's an initiative created by the Flik Hospitality staff to help the players get ready for the game through delicious food. The chefs prepare a meal during the week of the game that is inspired by the Eagles' opponent. As the Eagles get ready to face the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, the chefs made Smoked Salmon Sandwiches.