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Eagles return from the bye week with better health and a new linebacker | Early Birds

Ronald Darby and Zach Ertz practiced on Monday. Dannell Ellerbe joined the team.

Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby goes after Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins in the first game of the season.
Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby goes after Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins in the first game of the season.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

Good morning, Eagles fans. This is a Tuesday edition of Early Birds, coming on the morning after the Eagles returned to work following the bye week. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and offensive coordinator Frank Reich will hold news conferences this afternoon.

  1. The big news on Monday was that Ronald Darby practiced at his starting outside cornerback spot after missing eight games with a dislocated ankle and is on pace to play Sunday against the Cowboys. It sounds like Darby be in the starting lineup, but don't be surprised if the Eagles use a rotation while Darby returns to football shape. Jalen Mills and Patrick Robinson have played well during Darby's absence, and Rasul Douglas has earned more trust. But Darby's return will help a defense that can use his speed and talent in the secondary — especially with some better quarterbacks on the schedule.

  2. Zach Ertz also practiced without restrictions on Monday. He missed the Eagles' last game because of a hamstring injury. It was not considered serious, but Ertz didn't feel comfortable while working out before that game, and the Eagles didn't want to make it worse. Look for Ertz to return to the lineup on Sunday. However, his bye week plans were disrupted because of the injury. He was scheduled to go to Canada to watch his wife, Julie, play for the U.S. soccer team. (She scored a goal.) Instead, Ertz stayed in Philadelphia to rehab. It was his birthday on Friday, and he celebrated by going out to the dinner with Jordan Hicks and Hicks' wife.

  3. The Eagles made a transaction, adding veteran linebacker Dannell Ellerbe and waiving cornerback Dexter McDougle. I'm curious to hear what Schwartz says, and the Eagles need to see how Ellerbe adjusts. But I can see him contributing as a middle linebacker in the base defense. He's not much of a special teams contributor, so it only makes sense for the Eagles to add him if they think they'd use him on defense. It's like the Stephen Tulloch addition last year for depth at middle linebacker, expect the Eagles actually lost their starter last season.

If your friends haven't subscribed to Early Birds, it's free to sign up here to receive the newsletter in your inbox every weekday. I want to know what you think, what we should add, and what you want to read, so send me feedback by email or on Twitter @ZBerm. Thank you for reading.

— Zach Berman

What you need to know about the Eagles

  1. Even though the Eagles defense has played well this season, they get back their top cornerback when Ronald Darby returns to action. Les Bowen has the story.

  2. Tim Jernigan is here to stay, and he reacts to his new contract in Paul Domowitch's story.

  3. The Eagles must prepare to lose QB coach John DeFilippo, Jeff McLane writes. "Flip," as he's called, works closely with Carson Wentz.

  4. Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott was sacked eight times against Atlanta, and the Eagles' defensive line could make it a similarly long day this Sunday, Bob Ford writes.

  5. It's Dallas week, and Marcus Hayes shares what the Eagles think of the Cowboys in chaos.

  6. The Eagles added a linebacker, an update on Zach Ertz, and more in these notes from Monday's interviews.

  7. If you missed Monday's newsletter, I looked at how Sunday's results affected the Eagles.

From the mailbag

As far as differences between Doug Pederson and Andy Reid, Pederson's aggressive decisions on fourth downs jump out. His weekly schedule is also different, although it's changed elsewhere in the NFL in recent years. As a former player, Pederson is in touch with the locker room and probably thinks from the players' perspective more than most other coaches. The similarities are obvious, especially with the scheme and the way practices are scheduled. Frankly, Reid is a good coach to model oneself after. But I think Pederson has shown growth in his second year and is developing his own identity more than last season.