The Eagles' offense has help on the way, but the defensive front is still thinning.
Head coach Doug Pederson said Wednesday that right tackle Lane Johnson and running back Miles Sanders were both expected to practice later in the day, and noted that he’s “optimistic” about Johnson’s chances to play Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams.
“Lane and Miles will definitely get some practice time today and see where they’re at the end of today," Pederson said. "As far as the game goes on Sunday, we’ve got some time. We’re optimistic that Lane can play.”
Both Sanders and Johnson were full participants in practice for the first time since training camp. They were limited all last week leading into the team’s 27-17 loss to Washington. Sanders didn’t travel with the team because of his hamstring injury, while Johnson tried to manage his ailing ankle during pregame warmups but ultimately couldn’t play. Wednesday’s session was fully padded. With both players a full go, they’re both likely on track to play Sunday, barring any setbacks during the week.
The Eagles surrendered eight sacks with Jack Driscoll and later Jordan Mailata in Johnson’s place, with two or three of them caused by apparent miscommunications between the right tackle, right guard Nate Herbig, and running backs in pass protection.
Pederson said Driscoll will start in Johnson’s place again if the Pro Bowl tackle can’t go. Herbig, a 2019 undrafted free agent, didn’t get the same definitive vote of confidence after his first start.
“It’s Nate’s job right now and he has to do everything he can to keep that,” Pederson said.
Herbig took reps alongside Johnson during Wednesday’s position drills. He worked with Johnson last week before being named the starter at right guard, too. Left tackle Jason Peters was limited during Wednesday’s session because of a knee injury.
On the defensive front, Derek Barnett was also a full participant Wednesday, the first time the 2017 first-round pick has suited up this year. He missed all of training camp and was limited last week with a hamstring injury. Barnett’s return comes as the team loses Vinny Curry, who was put on injured reserve on Tuesday with a hamstring injury, and with Brandon Graham in the concussion protocol. Graham was at practice Wednesday but not suited up.
Javon Hargrave also made his first appearance at Eagles practice since signing with the team last March. The defensive tackle was a limited participant because of a strained pectoral muscle combined with a hamstring injury, which caused him to miss all of training camp and practice last week.
Hargrave was the team’s big free-agency signing in the offseason, agreeing to a three-year, $39 million contract to fortify the team’s defensive tackle rotation.
“He’s getting closer,” Pederson said. “I’m not going to put a timetable on it. We’re going to get him back when we get him back and, look, when we do get him back, he has missed some time. But at the same time, we’re going to put him right in there and he’ll be ready to go.”
Wide receiver DeSean Jackson and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox were both granted rest days during Wednesday’s session. They were not present at practice but aren’t injured.