Good morning, Eagles fans! There is an energy in the building as the countdown to Dallas continues. The players will practice at 1 p.m. and will speak to the media in the locker room at 3:15 p.m. Here's what you need to know in today's Morning Roundup presented by Microsoft leading off with news on the injury front.
1. Welcome Back
Head coach Doug Pederson met with the media yesterday and offered some encouraging news. Offensive tackle Lane Johnson is expected to play after suffering a knee injury in London and safety Graham is also expected to get into the mix in practice this week and play Sunday.
Pederson was less optimistic about Jalen Mills, who has a foot injury, and Sidney Jones, who has a hamstring injury. Neither practiced yesterday. The Eagles will need as many healthy bodies as possible against a talented Cowboys team.
"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."
Yesterday, Pederson also said that running back Darren Sproles would practice this week and is expected to play Sunday. But a report this morning from ESPN's Adam Schefter came with some disappointing news.
2. Kudos To Lane Johnson
Sunday marks the beginning of the second half of the season as the 4-4 Eagles look to win important divisional games and get back to the playoffs. Eagles Insider Dave Spadaro put together some points about the state of the team and what fans can look for starting Sunday. It leads off with just how tough Lane Johnson is:
A big kudos to right tackle Lane Johnson, who is, according to head coach Doug Pederson, expected to practice on a limited basis this week and play on Sunday night, just two weeks after suffering a knee injury in London against Jacksonville. Early reports indicated a Grade 2 sprain of his medial collateral ligament and one report said that Johnson "will miss several weeks" with the injury. Those early reports, clearly, don't look accurate. If Johnson can play Sunday, wow. What a show of toughness for Johnson and great work by the team's athletic training staff to rehab Johnson so diligently.
3. Next Man Up: Rasul Douglas In Line To Start Sunday
The Eagles secondary is banged up and could see a lot of shifts and changes this Sunday. If cornerbacks Jalen Mills and Sidney Jones do not play, Rasul Douglas could be a starter on the outside. Rookie Avonte Maddox, who moved to safety in place of Rodney McLeod, could stay there and Cre'Von LeBlanc, who was signed to the Eagles Tuesday, may have to start in the slot. There are a lot of positions with question marks but it helps that the Eagles have dealt with these issues all season long:
"I'm having to take less reps at practice to make sure that these guys are prepared because we've had so many injuries that we don't want to be in a position where something happens and he has to play that role and he's never had to do it," Jenkins said. "Every week, we plug guys in and out and find a way to get it done. This week won't be any different."
4. Seven Players To Watch
The Eagles have searched through every nook and cranny in the roster this season as injuries stretched the team thin. Because of that, we have seen some impressive individual performances in important moments from players we didn't expect. With that in mind, Dave Spadaro put together a list of seven players Eagles fans should keep an eye on in the second half. Some are obvious playmakers, like new wide receiver Golden Tate, while others are hard workers who do their job when called upon:
Isaac Seumalo, LG
Entrenched as the starter at left guard, Isaac Seumalo is playing good football and figures to keep moving in the right direction. Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland spoke highly of Seumalo this week, saying that the third-year Eagle has "improved every week. I'm very pleased with where Isaac is and how he's playing." In a pinch, Seumalo has moved out to right tackle and given the Eagles good snaps there. His versatility is important, but more important is his size, strength, and athletic ability along the interior of the line. The Eagles never gave up on Seumalo during his struggles a year ago and that patience appears to be paying off.
5. Let's Go Dallas!
Rookie tight end Dallas Goedert is set to play his first ever game against the team for which he is named. He has taken great strides as a rookie, improving as a blocker and racking up 18 catches and three touchdowns as a receiver. After seven games, he was rated the top rookie tight end in the NFL by Pro Football Focus. Fans can learn about the player they wanted to call "Philly" Goedert in a Q&A that will also appear in Sunday's Gameday Magazine:
You were named after the Dallas Cowboys. What will it be like playing against them?
"It's going to be really cool to play against the Dallas Cowboys. I've gotten enough grief about the Dallas name and everything like that so I'm ready for it. It will be kind of weird right away hearing 'Dallas sucks' but once it clicks for me that they're saying it for the Dallas Cowboys, it'll make sense."