The Eagles are in ridiculously good health

The Eagles are in ridiculously good health

Yeah, yeah, we’re jinxing them. Now that we got that out of the way, you really have to marvel at how bare the Philadelphia Eagles injury report is for this time of year.

As the Birds prepare for Sunday’s matchup against the Minnesota Vikings, just four players make the report. Starting safety Earl Wolff (knee) and special teamer Najee Goode (hamstring) are listed as doubtful, although both are getting closer to playing and have an outside shot at suiting in the upcoming game. Cornerbacks Brandon Boykin (hip) and Cary Williams (hamstring) are both probable.

That’s it. That’s the entire report.

Weird. That’s actually longer than usual.

Other than a few dings here and there, the Eagles have been extremely fortunate when it comes to avoiding injuries this season. All five players on injured reserve landed there in training camp. The only starters on the 53-man roster to miss games this season are Nick Foles, Mychal Kendricks, Bradley Fletcher, and Wolff.

There’s no denying that health has been a big factor in the Eagles’ success this season. While the Birds have suffered relatively few injuries themselves, they’ve run into some opponents who were without star players. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers going down for Green Bay comes to mind, as does running back Reggie Bush for the Detroit Lions this past Sunday. This week, it’s possible if not likely the Vikings will be without reigning NFL Most Valuable Player Adrian Peterson.

What’s the Eagles' secret? Some might say it’s the sports science program Chip Kelly brought to the organization, and there’s probably something to that to a degree. These players to a man will probably all say they’re in the best shape of their lives, although that doesn’t necessarily help one avoid injuries.

Chip agrees, to an extent. A few months back, reporters asked the head coach what the science has been behind keeping players on the field, and while he admitted it helps, Kelly acknowledged some things you just can’t avoid. Via PFT:

“It’s a combination of a lot of things,” Kelly said, via ESPN.com, “but I think part of what our sports science aspect of things is, is to make sure that time lost is the biggest thing you’re trying to prevent. Just the little things: are we getting enough sleep, eating the right way, doing the other things. That contributes to it.”

“We don’t do that just for the sake of doing it,” Kelly said. “We do that because we think there’s a benefit to it. Obviously, the big issues you look at are the soft tissue injures, because those are preventable. If someone breaks a leg, someone breaks a leg. There’s not much from a sports science standpoint or preparation standpoint that goes into the prevention of breaking a bone.”

Of course, while the Eagles have been fortunate throughout the season, they did lose a key cog in Jeremy Maclin to a torn ACL back in camp. Imagine what the league’s third-ranked offense would look like had that not happened.

The Eagles have been able to avoid any more major injuries since then though, and now have very few at all during the most important stretch of the season. It’s helped propel them to an 8-5 record and likely playoff team.

Now say a prayer, keep your fingers crossed, and don’t drive your car too close to the sidewalk near the NovaCare Complex. Hey, what’s the ladder doing in front of the entrance?

Doug Pederson: Dak Prescott knew he didn't have to win by himself

Doug Pederson: Dak Prescott knew he didn't have to win by himself

For the most part, Carson Wentz had a pretty successful rookie season. 

Sure, the Eagles finished with a 7-9 record, but Wentz did enough to continue the franchise's belief that he is indeed the quarterback of the future. 

Another guy in Dallas did the same thing with the Cowboys. Actually, Dak Prescott had an even more impressive rookie season, leading the Cowboys to 13 wins, while winning the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. 

Prescott, a fourth-round pick, had a great year, but didn't try to do too much. And that's what impressed Eagles head coach Doug Pederson the most. 

"[Prescott] understood this right away, that he didn't have to win the game for them," Pederson said on The Doomsday Podcast, hosted by Matt Mosley and Ed Werder. (Pederson also talked about running the Rocky steps). "He knew that he had a good defense, a tremendous offensive line, a great runner, he had some veteran players that he could rely on and he learned that early. As soon as he had the opportunity to play and that was early, from Day 1. 

"That's something that a young quarterback, sometimes it takes them a while to figure out the game that way. That's the impressive thing, that he learned how to handle that business that well, utilize the people around him and understand that he didn't have to go win the game."

While Prescott had plenty of help during his rookie season, it was pretty evident Wentz was lacking in that area. 

Prescott had a great offensive line, Dez Bryant, Ezekiel Elliott and others. Wentz had an offensive line that was missing Lane Johnson, an often-injured Ryan Mathews and receivers like Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham playing serious snaps. 

So it made sense when the team went out this offseason and signed Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith, and recently LeGarrette Blount, as free agents, finally getting Wentz some real help. 

"We had opportunities to get those two guys and it was obvious last year, we were young at the wide receiver position," Peterson said. "We needed some leadership, some veteran presence there and we went out and got that with Torrey and Alshon. We still want to build through the draft, we still want to acquire young talent. 

"LeGarrette Blount now is a guy that gives us that big back, running back, that can come in and compete and hopefully he does everything he did at New England the last couple of seasons. He had 18 rushing touchdowns for over 1,000 yards and we just expect that same level of performance here."

Maybe having weapons will allow Wentz to do what made Prescott so impressive to Pederson in 2016: not too much. 

Tonight's lineup: Michael Saunders dropped to eighth in order

Tonight's lineup: Michael Saunders dropped to eighth in order

Pete Mackanin is still searching for answers to the Phillies' offensive woes following Sunday afternoon's disheartening 1-0 loss in Pittsburgh during which the Phils could only muster three hits.

The latest lineup twist as the search for an answer continues will see Michael Saunders bat in the eight-hole tonight as the Phils open a four-game series with the surging Rockies tonight at Citizens Bank Park (see game notes).

When he has started this season, Saunders has been a fixture within the middle of the Phillies' order. After all, the offseason free-agent signing was an All-Star for Toronto last season when he hit 24 homers and drove in 57 runs.

But this season hasn't gone as planned as Saunders is hitting just .232 with four homers and 15 RBI in 41 games with the Phils this season.

With Saunders' drop down the lineup, Tommy Joseph will bat fourth, Maikel Franco fifth and Odubel Herrera sixth against Rockies spot starter Jeff Hoffman.

Tonight's full lineups can be found below:

Phillies
1. Cesar Hernandez 2B
2. Freddy Galvis SS
3. Aaron Altherr LF
4. Tommy Joseph 1B
5. Maikel Franco 3B
6. Odubel Herrera CF
7. Cameron Rupp C
8. Michael Saunders RF
9. Jerad Eickhoff SP

Rockies
1. Charlie Blackmon CF
2. D.J. LeMehiau 2B
3. Nolan Arenado 3B
4. Carlos Gonzalez RF
5. Mark  Reynolds 1B
6. Gerardo Parra LF
7. Alexi Amarista SS
8. Tony Wolters C
9. Jeff Hoffman SP