PHILADELPHIA ( - Eagles starting running back Ryan Mathews was forced to leave the NovaCare Complex on Friday morning with an illness, but head coach Doug Pederson believes the veteran should be able to play Sunday against Washington.

Mathews is the Eagles’ leading rusher this season with 146 yards, but is averaging only 3.3 yards per carry and his late-game fumble in Detroit last Sunday was pivotal in setting up the Lions’ game-winning field goal.

“It just happened, with me (becoming aware), so I haven’t gotten with (trainer Chris) Peduzzi, but as of right now, yes,” Pederson said about asked about Mathews’ status for Sunday.

Mathews has also struggled with a pesky ankle injury so far this season and this may be an opportunity for rookie Wendell Smallwood as well Kenjon Barner to garner some added touches in support of Darren Sproles.

“Those two guys, Kenjon and Wendell, become a little more important if Ryan can’t go,” Pederson said. “...but we don’t alter or change any part of the run game plan.”

In other injury news, Pederson said cornerback Leodis McKelvin will return to practice Friday and how he handles the session will determine whether he will play Sunday against the Redskins.

McKelvin returned to the lineup last week in Detroit after missing the prior two games with a hamstring injury. He tweaked the injury against the Lions but did finish the game before missing practice on Wednesday and Thursday.

“We want to try it today in practice and see where it’s at because again, if he can go and contribute, it’ll definitely help us on defense,” Pederson said. “If he can’t, we’ll go as what we’ve done in the past and get him ready to go next week.”

McKelvin reinjured the hamstring against Detroit but returned to the game. He hasn’t practiced either Wednesday or Thursday.

When McKelvin was on the shelf before, the Eagles started Ron Brooks on the outside opposite Nolan Carroll and then kicked him inside in nickel packages with rookie Jalen Mills handling the outside work.

Finally, Pederson confirmed that star defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (ankle) and special teams stalwart Bryan Braman (shoulder) will play against the ‘Skins.

-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for You can reach him at or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

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