1. Corey Clement Ready To Roll
Doug Pederson addressed the media today for the final time before the Eagles travel to play the New York Giants tomorrow night. Pederson confirmed that running back Corey Clement will be set to play for a backfield that desperately needs help. He also expressed faith in the running backs on the roster as he expects them to be able to "make it work" as the Eagles lose Jay Ajayi.
2. Meanwhile, Another Week For Sproles
Clement was a full participant in practice yesterday. Running back Darren Sproles, however, sat out once again with a hamstring injury. Pederson said Wednesday morning that Sproles is "close" but his non-participation makes it unlikely he will play tomorrow night. Sproles and Clement are two of a few major Eagles mentioned in yesterday's injury report:
Tackle Lane Johnson (ankle) and quarterback Carson Wentz (not injury related – rest) were limited.
While Clement is on his way back, Darren Sproles is probably another week away as he missed practice with a hamstring injury that's sidelined him since the season opener. Linebackers D.J. Alexander (quadricep) and Nathan Gerry (ankle, knee), safety Corey Graham (hamstring), and defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (calf) also did not practice.
3. The NFC East: A Path To The Playoffs
The Eagles aren't where they want to be at 2-3. But they are in no way separated from their goal of getting to the postseason. Thursday presents an opportunity to win a divisional game against a bitter rival. And with how the NFC East is shaping up, this game could be huge. The Eagles' division is struggling out of the gate and, as Eagles' Insider Dave Spadaro writes, the NFC East presents a path to the playoffs:
"We just need a win, man," Cox said on Tuesday. "That's all it is. That's our focus. We're not happy to be here 2-3, but it is what it is. We just have to find a way to win."
The path to the postseason starts in the division, and the current state of the NFC East is, well, unsightly. Washington leads the way at the moment at 2-2, the Eagles and Cowboys are 2-3, and the Giants are 1-4. The team that wins in division play has a very good chance of winning the NFC East and hosting a postseason game.
"Throw out the records, because it's a division game," middle linebacker Jordan Hicks said. "We know the Giants are an extremely talented team offensively and they're playing hard. They're close to turning things around there. You see it when you watch the tape. I know how competitive the NFC East is. I know how tough it is to win games against that team."
4. Clement's Big Responsibility
With Ajayi out with an ACL tear and Sproles still day-to-day, it is vital that Clement is healthy once again. For the immediate future, Clement is the Eagles' top running back. Luckily for the Eagles, Clement is a versatile back that can run between tackles, power through defenders, and make receptions for big gains. Dave Spadaro writes that Clement knows the weight on his shoulders now and is ready to handle it going forward:
"Yeah, definitely," Clement said on Tuesday when asked if he's ready for a big workload if called upon, now that the Eagles are without Jay Ajayi for the remainder of the season after Ajayi tore his left ACL in Sunday's loss to Minnesota. "I think, whenever you come into a business like this, you've got to expect it. You've got to expect a heavy workload. Even if it's not your first year, it may hit you on your second which looks like it's doing it with me. I get to share with Wendell (Smallwood) and Josh Adams. Yes, we do have a young group but it doesn't (account) for the fact that we're led by a great coach, Duce Staley, here in our running back room.
"If we take everything into account, we should have a lot of fun in this game."
5. Eagle Eye: Schwartz's Disguise
After breaking down the offense, Fran Duffy now looked at the tape on the defensive side of the ball in the Eagles' loss to the Vikings. Jim Schwartz's unit was able to slow down a hot offense and hold them to 16 points, but several big plays cost the Eagles. The most recent Eagle Eye column takes a look at what went wrong and what went right in a frustrating game for the defense:
Again, was it a great defensive game? No. There were several plays that the unit would like to get back, and missed opportunities abound that could have given the team a better chance to win the football game. Let's get into some of the positives, though.
One thing I saw in this game that I really liked was Jim Schwartz's use of "disguise" before the snap to affect the quarterback. When you line up one way and then show the offense something completely different at the snap of the ball, it can cause confusion and force the quarterback to hold the football as he tries to figure out where to go with it. There can be a downside to this. There are examples every week of teams "disguising themselves out of coverage," meaning that they're so worried about fooling the opponent that they're unable to get lined up correctly and they get burned for a big play. That didn't happen to the Eagles in this game.