Zach Ertz returned to the practice field Thursday and participated in position drills even though he’s dealing with a fractured rib and a lacerated kidney.
The tight end was listed as limited in Wednesday’s injury report, which was an estimation because the Eagles held a walk-through instead of a full practice. On Thursday, Ertz stretched with teammates before going through drills that required him to run routes and catch passes.
Ertz missed the regular-season finale against the New York Giants on Sunday after getting hurt against the Cowboys in Week 16. The 29-year-old briefly went to the locker room but returned and finished the game.
Eagles coach Doug Pederson said Wednesday that Ertz wasn’t cleared for contact. It seems unlikely he would be cleared if he’s risking organ damage.
“I’m going to leave that up to the doctors,” Pederson said. “Obviously, when they clear him, they clear him and then we play. But until that time, I really don’t know.”
Ertz wasn’t the only Eagle trying to show enough to return Sunday for the wild-card playoff game against the Seattle Seahawks at Lincoln Financial Field. Right tackle Lane Johnson was also a limited participant, stretching off to the side and doing individual work alongside Jason Peters during position drills. Johnson missed the last three games with a high-ankle sprain.
Fletcher Cox (triceps) and Derek Barnett (ankle) were also limited in practice Thursday. Nelson Agholor (knee) and Miles Sanders (ankle) both missed practice, but Sanders told the Inquirer he expects to return to practice Friday and be ready to play.
Cornerback Jalen Mills was a full participant in practice after missing the last game with an ankle injury.
It was the first time Mills hasn’t been limited in practice since rolling his ankle against the Cowboys. The Eagles lost both Mills and fellow starting outside corner Ronald Darby in their 17-9 win over Dallas, forcing them to move Avonte Maddox to the outside against the Giants.
Maddox, also returning to practice after suffering an abdomen injury against the Giants, could stay on the outside or move back to the slot, depending on whom the Eagles decide to use opposite Mills.
Last week, they went with Rasul Douglas and Maddox on the outside with Cre’Von LeBlanc in the slot. LeBlanc played well, drawing praise from defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.
Right guard Brandon Brooks will have surgery to repair a broken bone in his right shoulder socket, according to a source. Brooks, who missed last offseason with a torn Achilles, expects to be ready for training camp in the summer.
Brooks left the game against the Giants on Sunday with the injury, which coach Doug Pederson described as a separated shoulder with “a little more damage in there.”
Brooks, 30, was having the best season of his career, grading out as the best offensive lineman in the league by Pro Football Focus. His surgery will be performed by James Andrews, who has done many high-profile operations.
The last meaningful game Shelton Gibson played was for the Eagles against the New Orleans Saints during the playoffs last season.
Against the Seahawks, he’ll rejoin the team after spending the regular season on the Cleveland Browns’ practice squad. The Eagles brought back their 2017 fifth-round pick after placing Brooks on injured reserve.
After being on a practice squad for the first time in his career, Gibson has a new appreciation for preparing to play in a high-stakes game.
“It’s super exciting,” Gibson said. “... The whole year, being on a practice squad, I don’t even know how to explain it. It’s amazing.”
How has Gibson changed?
“I take the game way, way, way more serious,” the 24-year-old said. “Because ... being on a practice squad the whole year, looking at it from a different perspective, I’m not playing on Sundays. I haven’t played since the Saints last year in the playoff game. I just got to switch it, from a practice squad mentality to playing in the playoffs.”