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Pederson says Jordan Matthews will play Sunday; coach tries to defend flabby 'D'

A gloomy day-after Doug Pederson news conference Tuesday was brightened at least a little by Pederson's announcement that Jordan Matthews' ankle X-rays were negative. Though Pederson said he will hold Matthews out of Wednesday's practice, the Eagles' leading receiver (by leaps and bounds) should play Sunday at Cincinnati.

Right guard Brandon Brooks, hospitalized with nausea Monday (a full day ahead of most fans), is OK now and should practice and play, Pederson said.

Pederson, in a shift perhaps dictated by his once-contending team's 5-6 record, repeated his postgame message to players -- that the rest of the season will determine who wants to be here next season.

"You find out a lot about your football team in the next month," Pederson said. "I don't want people to start tanking it in the last month of the season."

Asked why his $102 million-plus defensive tackle, Fletcher Cox, can't seem to make a crucial play, Pederson said Cox "draws a lot of attention. Draws a lot of double-teams, gets a lot of hands on him. He still at times is very disruptive and can be a force inside. Mentally, he's good. Physically, he's good. It's just a matter of the sheer determination and wanting to get the job done. He's still a very capable defensive lineman for us. We do expect, and I do expect a lot from guys like Fletcher, and he does, too."

Cox, the NFC defensive player of the month in September, last recorded a sack Oct. 9, at Detroit.

Much like his mentor, Andy Reid, Pederson has developed a pattern after losses of agreeing with questioners who wonder why he couldn't have run more. The Eagles' running backs got 13 carries Monday night as Pederson loaded the game onto Carson Wentz's shoulders, even after Matthews went down and he was playing with Paul Turner, Bryce Treggs and Dorial Green-Beckham at wideout.

Pederson said he hasn't decided whether 2015 No. 1 draft choice Nelson Agholor will be benched again at Cincinnati.

The Eagles had 20 sacks in their first six games. They have six in their last five games, one over the past two weeks. They managed none against Green Bay.

"Teams know we have a good defensive line, we have a good pass rush. They're keeping tight ends and backs in. Some teams are using two tight ends in protection," Pederson said. "Seven-man protections, six-man protections. They're chipping our defensive ends, which secures your A and B gaps. And then your pass-rush lanes become a little tighter. We keep working games, you keep working pick-stunts, you keep working all the things that you do to try to free up these guys."