Ertz Set to Play vs. Broncos
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Eagles star tight end Zach Ertz is expected to play Sunday against Denver despite feeling tightness in his hamstring during practice this week.
Carson Wentz's favorite target was unable to finish the Thursday session and was limited again on Friday but Doug Pederson is confident that Ertz will be a go against Von Miller and the Broncos' top-ranked defense.
"He just acquired a little tightness in the hamstring, so [we] just backed him down," the coach explained. "Didn't want to push him any further than that."
Ertz, who leads the Eagles with 43 receptions for 528 yards and six touchdowns at the season's midway point, is being listed as questionable for Sunday but Pederson responded with a one-word answer when pressed on whether Ertz would play: "Yes."
As for newly-acquired running back Jay Ajayi, that remains up in the air although Pederson did explain that if the former Miami Pro Bowl selection is active, it would be for a limited package of plays.
"It's very limited – 10 to 15 plays," Pederson said when asked about Ajayi's status learning the offense after being acquired this week. "I just want him to feel comfortable there. But it's a taste of a little bit of every aspect of the offense, you know what I'm saying? So first and second and third down; we'll find out a little bit more today in the red zone. Stuff like that.
"But it definitely won't be the full complement of the playbook."
The other questionable player on the injury report is cornerback Ronald Darby, who is still working his way back from the dislocated ankle suffered in the season opener.
The Eagles' team success, along with the solid play of complementary corners Jalen Mills, Patrick Robinson and Rasul Douglas, have enabled Philadelphia to be very cautious with Darby and with the bye week looming after this game, the odds are strong that Darby sits again.
"Ronald is doing extremely well," Pederson said. "He’s had probably his best week so far in preparation and, as we’ve mentioned, getting that game condition back. He's done a nice job this week."
Darby, though, has remained limited in practice to this point.
"When he comes back, you'd like for him to be your number one guy taking all the reps," the coach explained. "Right now it's a limited basis just to see where he's at mentally and physically."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen