Through five weeks, the season hasn’t exactly gone as planned for the Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants, who are each riding two-game losing streaks.
At 2-3, the defending Super Bowl champions have lost three of four since winning the opener, and the Eagles’ offense has yet to click despite the return of starting quarterback Carson Wentz. The Giants (1-4) have had their own issues on offense (just ask Odell Beckham Jr.), though they topped 30 points on Sunday for the first time since the end of 2015.
Despite the poor starts, both teams remain in workable position in the struggling NFC East — led by 2-2 Washington — entering Thursday night’s game in East Rutherford, N.J., after all four teams lost in Week 5.
“None of it matters if we don’t go out and win,” Giants nose tackle Damon Harrison said Tuesday. “No matter what the other teams in the division are doing, we still have to handle our business.”
New York nearly did so last week, but Carolina Panthers kicker Graham Gano snuck a 63-yard field goal through the uprights as time expired. The crushing 33-31 loss left the Giants more excited than normal to play on a short week, embracing the opportunity to wash the bad taste out of their mouths.
“This probably would be the first time where I would ever not be upset about the turnaround,” Beckham said of playing Thursday night. “Coming off a tough loss like that, you just want to get back out there.”
On the other side, head coach Doug Pederson sees an opportunity for the Eagles to stem the tide and regain the attitude they had during their magical 2017 season. Like his approach as a play-caller, Pederson wants his team to remain aggressive amid the setbacks.
“When you lose a couple of games, you tend to sort of crawl back into a shell just a little bit,” he said. “That’s the wrong mentality. Our mentality that we’re going to continue to grow, full steam ahead, continue to grow as a team, collectively as a group and try to get that swagger back.”
That will be easier said than done on Thursday. While traveling on a short week, Philadelphia will be without one of its top playmakers, as running back Jay Ajayi was lost for the season after suffering a torn ACL in a 23-21 loss to the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday.
Soothing matters somewhat is the expected return of Corey Clement, who has battled a quad injury, but Darren Sproles remains out with a hamstring issue that has sidelined him since Week 1.
“I feel terrible for him,” Wentz said of Ajayi. “I know what it’s like, obviously he’s been there, too. … I feel like we’ve still got a stable of workhorses there (at running back), but yeah, it’s tough losing Jay.”
Defensive Derek Barnett (shoulder) should join Clement in returning after he was a full participant in Tuesday’s practice. Defensive tackle Haloti Ngata (calf) and safety Corey Graham (hamstring) missed Tuesday’s session.
Meanwhile, the Giants could be getting reinforcements on both sides of the ball. Coach Pat Shurmur said he’s hopeful tight end Evan Engram (knee) and defensive end Olivier Vernon (ankle) can play after practicing on a limited basis this week. Engram missed the last two games, while Vernon has yet to play this year.
New York waived 2015 first-round pick Ereck Flowers, and promoted Brian Mihalik from the practice squad on Tuesday to serve as the swing tackle. Kicker Aldrick Rosas is battling a right (kicking) quad issue, so Marshall Koehn was signed to the practice squad as insurance.