The Eagles’ offense has more questions than answers after a week of practice with uncertainty surrounding three major offensive contributors.
Running back Jordan Howard and receivers Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor are listed as questionable for Sunday’s 1 p.m. kickoff against the Seattle Seahawks at Lincoln Financial Field.
Jeffery has been nursing an ankle injury suffered late against the Chicago Bears on Nov. 3. The 29-year-old missed last week’s game against New England.
Howard is dealing with a shoulder “stinger” also sustained against the Bears. Eagles coach Doug Pederson said the team’s lead running back has been waiting to be cleared for contact for the better part of the last two weeks. The 25-year-old has been limited in practice since the team reconvened from its bye week on Nov. 13.
"Right now he’s still day-to-day,” Pederson said. “He can do individual stuff. It’s a tough injury. It’s a tricky injury. Again, until I get more updates and further notification on him, that’s where he’s at. He’s progressing.”
Jeffery has been limited in practice as well. He and Howard have been doing position drills but sitting out the team portion of practice.
Agholor rounds out the offensive weapons in flux going into the game after hurting a knee in the fourth quarter against the Patriots. He came up limping after he was unable to haul in a touchdown pass but was able to finish the game. Afterward, Agholor had tendon tape on the knee.
The 26-year-old receiver has missed the entire week of practice, but told reporters he was “day-to-day” after Thursday’s practice.
Pederson said Agholor and Jeffery were both “trending” in the right direction, and said their pain tolerance might decide whether they’ll be able to go.
“We know that in this sport, and in this game, you have to play sometimes a little beat up,” Pederson said. “Both these guys are tough guys and fully expect that.”
With DeSean Jackson on injured reserve, the Eagles are at risk of going into Sunday’s game without their top three wide receivers from the start of the season.
They know for certain they’ll have Mack Hollins, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, and Jordan Matthews ready to go. The three have combined for 14 catches for 174 yards and no touchdowns this season. Hollins is the leader in the pack with 10 receptions for 125 yards. Arcega-Whiteside, a second-round rookie, has been showing slight signs of progress in the last few weeks.
Earlier this week, Pederson praised the rookie receiver, who has primarily served as Jeffery’s backup. Against New England, Arcega-Whiteside had a 29-yard catch, his only grab of the game and the Eagles’ longest completion.
“He did some nice things in the [Patriots] game," Pederson said. “Even though the ball didn’t necessarily come his way. He ran some really good routes. He played physical. The signs of him getting work in practice kind of paid off in the game, and it’ll just give him more confidence moving forward.”
If the Eagles need more help at receiver, they could turn to practice-squad wideouts Greg Ward, Marcus Green, or Robert Davis. Ward, who had a special teams tackle in his NFL debut against Detroit on Sept. 22, is in his third season with the Eagles’ practice squad.
“Greg has done a terrific job for us at practice,” offensive coordinator Mike Groh said. “He makes a couple plays every day out there, and he’s certainly somebody that we have a lot of confidence in should we need to call on him. I don’t know when that might be, but he’ll be ready when it comes.”
If Howard is unable to play, the Eagles will lean heavily on rookie running back Miles Sanders along with Boston Scott and Jay Ajayi. Ajayi was signed last Friday after spending 13 months recovering from a torn ACL.
Being more than a year removed from taking a hit, the Eagles dressed Ajayi against the Patriots but he didn’t play a single snap. This week, Pederson said they have confidence they can use him.
“I think there’s a role,” Pederson said. “This week, if Jordan can’t go again, then that role would increase.”