NELSON AGHOLOR said Thursday he is healthier this week than last. The Eagles' first-round rookie wideout returned from a three-game high-ankle sprain absence Sunday against Miami, but he caught only three passes, on four targets, for 32 yards.
The Eagles' offense could desperately use the playmaking skills Agholor showed in the preseason, but hasn't been able to display much since. His best game was Oct. 4 at Washington, where he caught three passes for 64 yards, before suffering the ankle injury the next week against New Orleans.
"Obviously, there'll be some type of step down," Agholor said, when asked whether he felt rusty last week. "But I thought the training staff here and the coaching staff did a lot to prepare me."
Chip Kelly said trying to ease Agholor back in accounted for him using Miles Austin for 45 snaps against Miami, with Austin catching no passes on four targets, and using Riley Cooper for 52 snaps, though Cooper was never targeted.
The Eagles certainly could use a breakout game from Agholor this week.
"I don't control that," Agholor said, when asked about a possible increased workload.
Coming off the bench
Darren Sproles might have a bigger role this week, with running back Ryan Mathews expected to be sidelined by a concussion. Tight end Zach Ertz said Thursday that asking Sproles to make a difference in a very limited role has been problematic.
"It's hard in this league to come in in spot situations and get in rhythm and (have the coaches say), 'Hey, we really need you right now, go make a play.' I've been in that situation before, and it's tough to kind of not have (worked up) a sweat, not have a feel for how the defense is playing, and go out there and be expected to make a play," Ertz said.
Ertz said he's sure Sproles will deliver if called upon this week.
"He's never content or satisfied with where he is. Even after that first game against Atlanta, when he had all those yards and catches (five carries for 50 yards, seven catches for 76), he didn't come in that following Tuesday all happy - he was so mad that we lost. I think that's what has gotten him this far."
Barwin on Winston
Outside linebacker Connor Barwin, who missed Wednesday's practice with what he described as a "little thigh bruise," was back Thursday. The Eagles listed him as a limited participant, but Barwin said he's fine and will play Sunday. He played 64 of a possible 67 snaps in the loss to Miami.
Barwin was asked about facing a rookie quarterback this week, in Jameis Winston.
"I wouldn't put all rookie quarterbacks in the same box," Barwin said. "He's a No. 1 (overall) pick that's growing quickly and playing better and better every week. I don't really view him as your typical rookie quarterback anymore."
Winston has completed 164 of 285 passes (57.5 percent) for 2,159 yards, 10 touchdowns and nine interceptions. He has an 80.1 passer rating. Last week, in a 10-6 victory over Dallas, Winston completed 22 of 39 passses for 264 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions. Winston (6-4, 232) has four rushing touchdowns in his first nine NFL games.
Tampa Bay opponents have a 102.5 passer rating; the Bucs' defense is third-worst in this category.
Doesn't always add up to 2?
They've called it the Tampa 2 defense ever since the days of Tony Dungy and Monte Kiffin, but times change, and the defense the Bucs gave a name to isn't the only one they use, Zach Ertz said this week.
"I think that's kind of a fallacy, that Tampa Bay and Lovie Smith are only going to run Tampa 2," Ertz said. "They play a lot of man coverage, a lot of quarters coverage, a lot of Cover 3. They mix it up . . . You have to be ready for man and zone."
Chip Kelly said Thursday that quarterback Sam Bradford hasn't been cleared for aerobic activity, the second step in the five-pronged NFL concussion protocol . . . Right guard Matt Tobin said it was good for him and Lane Johnson to get some right-side work together Thursday, if Jason Peters is indeed going to return for the Tampa game, since they haven't worked much together the past few weeks . . . Wide receiver Josh Huff sat out Thursday's practice with back soreness, he said, but thinks he'll be fine for Sunday . . . Tampa Bay has allowed 19 touchdown passes, which ties the Giants for the third-worst figure in the NFL . . . The Eagles are 4-for-35 this season in situations of third-and-10 or more. Their opponents are 11-for-39 . . . Eagles second-round rookie corner Eric Rowe hasn't played a defensive snap since the New Orleans game, Oct. 11. He is playing on special teams.