Eagles coach Doug Pederson met with reporters Friday for the last time before Sunday night's encounter with the visiting Dallas Cowboys, and not surprisingly, Darren Sproles was a major topic of conversation.
Sproles, the Eagles' 35-year-old running back and returner, hasn't played since he suffered a hamstring injury in practice the week after the season opener. Sproles was set to come back this week — the Eagles even released their returner, DeAndre Carter, who was picked up by the Texans — but in his first practice since September, Sproles reinjured the hamstring Wednesday.
Pederson said the team makes sure players in such situations are 100 percent before they take the field again.
"He had a setback this week, but going into this week, he was [100 percent]," Pederson said. "People heal differently. … I'm not a doctor. I know we're going to go down this path today, and you're not going to get a ton from me. I'm just telling you, people heal differently."
Pederson said he still thinks Sproles will play again for the Eagles this season.
"I am optimistic that he can play. I am. That's the God's honest truth," Pederson said.
Pederson said he won't disclose who will return punts against the Cowboys. Newcomer Golden Tate seems like an obvious choice.
In an Instagram message to fans, Sproles said he was "blessed to have not endured any major injuries until this later part of my career. But at 35 and injury free, I can still rock with the best in this game. I'm doing what I can do get healthy and finish what I started. Thanks to all my fans still ridin with me!"
Pederson said right tackle Lane Johnson has done well in practice, despite his braced left knee from an MCL sprain suffered in the last game, Oct. 28 in London against Jacksonville. The Eagles listed Johnson as "questionable" for the game.
Pederson said starting cornerback Jalen Mills (foot) is probably farther away from playing than slot corner Sidney Jones (hamstring). Both players were declared out for this week.