Eagles invade Denver with renewed focus on run game
The Denver Broncos were expected to take a step back when they traded linebacker Von Miller to the Los Angeles Rams a week ago, but it wasn’t the case against the Dallas Cowboys.
Denver’s defense dominated the Cowboys in Dallas while Miller was getting acclimated to his new team. Now the Broncos (5-4) are riding a two-game winning streak heading into a home showdown with another NFC East opponent.
The Philadelphia Eagles (3-6) are coming off a last-second loss to the Los Angeles Chargers and are looking to get back into the division race. To do that they will continue to try and run the ball like they have the past two weeks.
After de-emphasizing the running game through the first seven weeks of the season, Philadelphia has used it to take some pressure off second-year quarterback Jalen Hurts.
The Eagles nearly doubled their rushing attempts the past two weeks compared to their first seven games — they have averaged 42.5 attempts the past two games compared to 23.4 carries before that — and have gained 412 yards on the ground in those two games.
Philadelphia has been productive in the ground game despite an injury to starting running back Miles Sanders. Jordan Howard has been the lead back and will likely continue in that role after being signed to the active roster. He was a practice roster call-up the previous two games.
Hurts has attempted just 31 passes and rushed for 133 yards the past two games.
“We definitely have to build on this,” Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said. “There is no secret. Jalen has had good practices the last two weeks, played two good games in a row, so we just have to go back and have another week like we did last week, offensively, to put ourselves in position to win next week.”
Philadelphia had five players not practicing on Wednesday due to injury — defensive tackle Javon Hargrave (shoulder), cornerback Avonte Maddox (knee), safety Rodney McLeod (neck), cornerback Darius Slay (hamstring) and cornerback Josh Sweat (concussion).
The Eagles will contend with a Denver defense that has played at a higher level after a four-game skid, but a team that is dealing with injuries to key players. Offensive guard Graham Glasgow was placed on injured reserve with a fractured ankle and cornerback Patrick Surtain II has a sprained knee.
Left tackle Garett Bolles, safety Caden Sterns, tight end Albert Okwuegbunam, tackle Bobby Massie, defensive end McTelvin Agim, wide receiver Tim Patrick, linebacker Malik Reed and defensive end Shelby Harris did not practice Wednesday.
Harris was dealing with a non-COVID illness while Okwuegbunam and Patrick are dealing with knee injuries. Bolles and Reed did not play in the win over Dallas.
The Broncos activated tight end Noah Fant and guard Netane Muti from the reserve/COVID-19 list and added cornerback Michael Ojemudia and inside linebacker Justin Strnad to that list.
Quarterback Drew Lock was on the Clist for the last game and the team has exhibited increased caution.
“We’re taking the right measures,” quarterback Teddy Bridgewater said. “We’re taking a preventative approach in catching this thing before it spreads. We’re spaced out in meetings now, like offensively we’re meeting in the indoor facility. Making the meeting rooms bigger. And enforcing guys wearing the masks. Even if you are vaccinated.”
In a twist, Denver claimed cornerback Mac McCain off waivers from Philadelphia.
–Field Level Media