11:17 AM ET
Tim McManusESPN Staff Writer
PHILADELPHIA — Eagles running back Jordan Howard has been medically cleared to return from a shoulder stinger and is “good to go” for Sunday’s regular-season finale against the New York Giants, coach Doug Pederson said Friday.
Howard, who served as the Eagles’ primary back before the injury, has not played since Week 9.
The dynamics have shifted in Howard’s absence, with rookie Miles Sanders emerging as a critical piece of the Eagles’ offense. A candidate for Offensive Rookie of the Year, Sanders has accounted for 40% of the team’s production over the past two weeks and ranks seventh in the NFL in all-purpose yards (1,590).
Pederson suggested Sanders will keep his spot atop the depth chart, and that Howard will be worked back in gradually.
“The challenge is we’ve been planning [for the Giants] with Miles and Boston [Scott], and Jordan gives us a third back, situational guy,” Pederson said. “We understand who he is. But as far as the conditioning and the game shape and being ready, you just can’t give him a full complement of plays. And we don’t necessarily want to disrupt what we’ve got going, but he is a big piece, obviously, to our offense.”
Howard rushed for 525 yards on 119 carries (4.4 yards per carry) with six touchdowns over the first nine games before being hurt in a win over the Chicago Bears, his former team. The Eagles have formed an identity on offense over the last several weeks, with strong chemistry developing between Carson Wentz and his young group of skill position players, led by Sanders.
The Eagles could clinch the NFC East title with a win against New York on Sunday. If they make it, Philadelphia would have a bruising north-south runner in Howard available for the postseason.
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