Neither Doug Pederson nor running back Jay Ajayi would say whether Ajayi definitely will play Sunday when the Eagles host the Denver Broncos, but the most likely scenario seems to be that Ajayi will be active, working with a limited package of plays.
Ajayi practiced with the Birds Friday for the third time since being traded here from Miami for a fourth-round draft choice just ahead of Tuesday’s NFL trade deadline.
Eagles coach Pederson said Friday that Ajayi comes from a Miami offense “with very similar terminology, so he’s familiar with that. He’s picked it up. He’s had some extra meetings with Duce [Staley, the running backs coach] this week. We’re trying to get him up to speed as fast as he can and we can. He’s done a nice job.”
Ajayi said he would go with whatever the coaches want. He didn’t indicate whether he had been told what they want, though he likely has been.
Ajayi said “understanding the way the blocks are schemed up here has definitely been different from Miami, but I’m getting more comfortable, I’ve been able to get out there on the practice field, get valuable reps this week.”
Fans are likely to see much more of Ajayi after the Eagles’ upcoming bye.
“Having a bye week instead of having another game next week will definitely help to be able to learn the playbook quicker, and [it’s comforting to] just know that I have time,” before the Nov. 19 game at Dallas, Ajayi said.
Pederson spoke to reporters before practice. On Fridays, the Eagles do their red-zone work, and Pederson said he wanted to get a sense of how that went before coming to a decision on Ajayi’s role against Denver.
Pederson said the package Ajayi is working with this week is “very limited – 10 to 15 plays” so that the newcomer isn’t overwhelmed.
“I just want him to feel comfortable there. But it’s a taste of a little bit of every aspect of the offense … So, first and second and third down; we’ll find out a little bit more today in the red zone,” Pederson said. “But it definitely won’t be the full complement of the playbook.”
Questionable, but OK?
Doug Pederson downplayed the hamstring problem that got tight end and leading receiver Zach Ertz listed as “questionable” for Sunday, after being a partial practice participant on Thursday and Friday. Ertz was not available to reporters.
Pederson answered “yes” when asked if Ertz will play against the Broncos.
“He just acquired a little tightness in the hamstring, so [we] just backed him down,” Pederson said. “Didn’t want to push him any further than that.”
Ertz is Carson Wentz’s go-to receiver, with 43 catches for 528 yards and six touchdowns in eight games.
Corner Ronald Darby continues to be listed as a partial practice participant. It seems unlikely he will play until he gets into a full practice, but Doug Pederson said Darby will be a game-time decision Sunday. … The Broncos are likely to get wideout Emmanuel Sanders back this week from a two-week ankle injury absence. … Reflective of Denver’s QB struggles is the fact that Demaryius Thomas leads the team with 35 catches for 455 yards, but has no touchdowns; in fact, he hasn’t scored since Week 10 last season, at New Orleans.