There is optimism that Eagles cornerback Sidney Jones will return from a three-game absence and defensive tackle Tim Jernigan will make his season debut Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.

Jones, who has been out for a month with a hamstring injury, was a limited participant in practice on Wednesday. Jernigan remains on the non-football injury list after offseason back surgery, although he participated in practice for the second consecutive week.

Neither player commented on his status. Jones declined an interview request because he said he needed to receive treatment. Jernigan did not enter the locker room when reporters were present.

Before practice, coach Doug Pederson said he was optimistic that Jones can play Sunday and the team will monitor his progress. If Jones plays, he's expected to start on the outside opposite Rasul Douglas. Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills, the Eagles' regular starters, both have injuries. Jones had been the team's slot cornerback when healthy this season.

"I think we'll see him in both spots," Pederson said. "Avonte [Maddox] has done a nice job in the nickel, and he'll probably continue to work in here. We'll just ease Sidney back in [Wednesday] and see what he can do."

Jernigan will be a key part of the defensive line, but there could be an even greater need for him because Haloti Ngata missed practice with a knee injury.

Richard Rogers preparing to play

After designating tight end Richard Rodgers (knee) to return from injured reserve, it appears Rodgers could play as soon as Sunday. Joshua Perkins has a significant knee injury, so the Eagles need a third tight end. Rodgers, who practiced on Wednesday, could fill the role he was expected to have before the season.

Rodgers was a free-agent signee from the Green Bay Packers. He has 120 career catches in four NFL seasons.

Extra points

Right tackle Lane Johnson was limited at practice while recovering from a knee injury that sidelined him last week. Running back Darren Sproles remains out while he rehabs a hamstring injury.