At some point during the first half Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field, Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson is expected to yank quarterback Nick Foles and other starters.
The Eagles (13-2) have several goals that can be reached with a victory over Dallas — they’ve never won 14 games in the regular season and haven’t gone undefeated at home since 1992 — but they will rely on backups to earn them.
It’s more important to guard against injuries whenever possible.
“I want the starters to play, but I’ve got to be smart about it,” Pederson said Friday in quotes provided by the team. “I’ve got to have a reasonable plan with those guys.”
Look for Foles and company to play a couple of series before taking a seat and resting for the upcoming playoffs. As the No. 1 seed in the NFC, the Eagles have a bye in next week’s wild-card round. They will play their first playoff game since the 2013 season on Jan. 13 or 14 in the divisional round.
Once the starters have departed, here are a few players who will try to help the Eagles finish the regular season with a victory over the Cowboys.
Quarterback Nate Sudfeld: The last time Sudfeld played in a meaningful game was in 2015, when he was Indiana University’s quarterback in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium.
He has never taken a snap in a regular-season NFL game. Sudfeld spent the 2016 season as a backup with Washington. Upon signing with the Eagles in September, he was on the practice squad for the first eight weeks of the season before being promoted to the active roster Nov. 1.
“Just because I haven’t played this season, I wasn’t just sitting back, watching practice all year, just expecting to never play football,” Sudfeld said this month. “I’ve been treating each week as if I was going to play in the next game.”
Cornerback Sidney Jones: The Eagles placed linebacker Joe Walker on injured reserve Friday and promoted Jones to the active roster Saturday with the intent of giving him some playing time against the Cowboys.
Jones, the Eagles’ second-round draft pick this year, last appeared in a game for the University of Washington in the College Football Playoff last season against Alabama. He suffered a ruptured Achilles’ tendon during a predraft workout in March and was on the Eagles’ physically unable to perform list until three weeks ago, when he participated in his first practice as an NFL player.
“I can’t even describe how happy and excited I am,” Jones said this month. “It’s been a long journey. I’ve had a great support system around me. Everybody’s been helping me.”
Running back Wendell Smallwood: A fifth-round draft pick in 2016, Smallwood has been the odd man out in the backfield during the second half of the season.
He has been a healthy scratch for six straight games while Pederson relied on Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount and rookie free agent Corey Clement to handle the ground game. Smallwood last played Nov. 5 against Denver, five days after the Eagles acquired Ajayi in a trade with Miami.
In seven games this season, Smallwood has 168 yards and a touchdown on 43 carries to go with 10 receptions for 79 yards.
“I want the best for the team, and we’re winning, so I’m happy for that,” Smallwood told the Wilmington News Journal this month. “But I kind of want to be helping this team out — whatever they’re needing in the meeting room, technique-wise, game plan-wise. We’re all together, helping each other out.”