In 17 NFL seasons, Eagles backup quarterback Josh McCown has made the playoffs one time before this, after the 2008 season in Carolina. McCown backed up Jake Delhomme and didn’t get into a 33-13 home loss to the Arizona Cardinals in the divisional round.
So McCown, 40, is every bit as happy this week as the practice squad call-ups and rookies who will make their playoff debuts Sunday when the Eagles host the Seattle Seahawks in the wild-card round at the Linc.
McCown said he has often been in the situation the Eagles were in a month ago, after their loss to Miami, when they were 5-7.
“You look at the rest of the schedule and you go, OK! If we can run the table we’ll get in. I’ve been on so many teams where we’ve said that and then we’ve not done [it]. ... For whatever reason, that group, in that moment, blinks. And they lose belief and they lose trust, and they don’t get it done. Our group has gone the opposite [way]. A guy gets hurt, the next guy steps up, the belief grows even more.”
McCown said one reason he came out of retirement when the Eagles called in August was to have this experience.
“It’s humbling to be a part of,” he said. “This thing that you’ve chased and wanted to see happen your whole career, to finally get to see it was cool.”
Coach Doug Pederson said the Eagles were “getting close on a couple of guys” as the injury-ravaged NFC East champions prepared for the Seahawks.
Pederson said he thought right tackle Lane Johnson (high ankle sprain, suffered Dec. 9) would “take a few plays” in Wednesday’s walk-through practice, and Johnson indeed was listed as a partial participant.
Pederson said tight end Zach Ertz “might be able to give us a little something” during the walk-through; Ertz also was listed as a partial participant. Ertz has cracked ribs but needs to be medically cleared after a kidney laceration suffered on the same play in the Dallas game, Dec. 22. It isn’t clear that will happen soon.
“I’m going to leave that up to the doctors; when they clear him, they clear him. And then we play. Until that time, I don’t know,” Pederson said. “The rest of the guys, we’ve got to see. A little more day to day with them, and make sure that they’re closer to 100 percent, obviously, before we stick them out there.”
Pederson said that if Johnson can play, Halapoulivaati Vaitai will move inside to right guard, in place of Brandon Brooks, who was placed on injured reserve with a shoulder injury. Less-experienced Matt Pryor will be the right guard if Vaitai is still at right tackle.
Cornerback Jalen Mills and running back Miles Sanders, who have ankle injuries, are day to day, Pederson said. Sanders did not practice, Mills was listed as limited, but he told reporters he expects to play.
Doug Pederson said he remembered running back Elijah Holyfield from a private workout with Georgia players before the draft this year. Tuesday, the Eagles signed Holyfield, who spent 2019 on the Panthers’ practice squad, when they placed defensive end Daeshon Hall on injured reserve with a torn ACL.
“I was really surprised,” said Holyfield, the son of former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield. “I had a really good workout” with the Eagles before the draft, “but I hadn’t really talked to them after that at all.”
Miles Sanders has an ankle injury and Jordan Howard is just back from a six-game absence with a shoulder injury, but the Holyfield signing might have as much to do with next spring and summer as anything. This is the time of year when teams sign players they have interest in for the future.
Holyfield was considered a solid draft prospect before he ran a 4.78-second 40 at the NFL scouting combine. He went undrafted.