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Doug Pederson Offers Injury Update; Says Leadership Will Help Eagles In Big Games

UPDATE: Linebacker Jordan Hicks and cornerback Jalen Mills are officially out for Sunday. Defensive end Michael Bennett, defensive tackle Tim Jernigan, and cornerback Avonte Maddox are questionable.

Head coach Doug Pederson met with the media on Friday ahead of the Eagles' trip to Dallas for what almost equates to a playoff game.

The Eagles have been banged up in recent weeks and Pederson began by providing updates on those yet to practice this week.

Defensive end Michael Bennett, who missed practice Wednesday and Thursday with a foot injury despite playing Monday against Washington, will return to practice today. Pederson said they kept him out earlier in the week in order to be cautious with him.

Tackle Jason Peters left Monday's game early with an ankle injury and has not practiced this week. He will miss practice again today for a personal issue but will play on Sunday, Pederson said. Tim Jernigan had back spasms flare up before Monday's game that caused him to sit out. He is being kept out of practice to make sure that they calm down.

Pederson said cornerback Avonte Maddox is "getting close" to returning after missing the last two games with ankle and knee injuries. He will be evaluated after today but is not expected to do much in practice. Pederson was less optimistic about linebacker Jordan Hicks (calf) and cornerback Jalen Mills (foot) saying that they were a "little ways away."

Sunday's game in Dallas is a massive one that could decide a lot in the final standing of the NFC East. Last season, the Eagles' relatively young team did not have a lot of collective experience competing in big games. Veterans like Malcolm Jenkins and Chris Long were vital providing leadership in those situations.

Now, the Eagles have a plenty of players who have experienced a Super Bowl run who will especially be valuable to young players taking on increased responsibilities down the final stretch.

"The value is that they can keep the young guys coming, keep them engaged," Pederson said. "If something negative happens, or positive, they don't go loose on us. They can keep those guys in and focused on the game and one-play mentality.

"And we know that when you play these types of games, it's a full 60-minute game and it's a battle every time you play the Cowboys or any of our NFC East opponents. So having guys that have been involved in games like this before, from a leadership standpoint, they help."

Pederson said that after the tough loss to the Saints that dropped the Eagles to 4-6 on the season, he saw signs of leadership and determination immediately. He challenged players to not hang their heads and that showed in their practices leading up to their next game against the New York Giants.

Now, the Eagles have a chance to show just how far they have come since that demoralizing loss. A win against Dallas would put the Eagles in the driver's seat in the division with three games to play. Pederson said his message to the team stressed just how important it is to keep pressing forward at this part of the season.

"We've got a lot to play for, number one," Pederson said. "A chance to dig ourselves out of a hole that we've created for ourselves early in the season. And I talk about teams, particularly us, we need to be playing our best football in all three phases the last month of the season. So, here we go, we're given this opportunity. ... You try to pursue excellence and strain and fight and everything to win the game."

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