Injured Brandon Brooks, Wendell Smallwood Return to Eagles Practice

Monday was a day of returns at the NovaCare Complex, all on the offensive side of the ball.

Alshon Jeffery took his turns with the first-team offense during 11-on-11 drills, Bryce Treggs was also back out wide and Nick Foles threw for the first time in a while.

But after Brandon Brooks went down with strained right ankle one week ago, his return to the practice field had to be the most encouraging - especially following the way the Eagles' offensive line struggled last week at Green Bay.

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"I'm feeling good," Brooks said. "I'm not there yet, just doing what I can - some individual, some group install. I'm kind of staying away from team for the time being."

Although the starting right guard didn't participate in any team drills Monday, it was clearly a step in the right direction. With Chance Warmack taking first-team reps last Thursday vs. the Packers, the Green Bay defense had a field day on the Birds' initial offensive series, forcing three rushes for negative yardage and a sack by Nick Perry.

Now, the question is will Brooks be back on the field this week?

"I don't know," he said. "It's kind of up in the air, 50-50. I'm just seeing how I feel, taking it day by day. It felt better today than it did last week. Obviously, we don't think it's where it needs to be for me to do team, but we'll just take it from there."

Fortunately for Brooks, his starting spot is more than safe. He will be an Eagles starter come opening day at Washington next month.

The same cannot necessarily be said, however, for Wendell Smallwood, who also was back on the practice field Monday

It was a similar situation for the second-year running back - he participated in both individual and group drills but did not make an appearance during the team portion of practice. Instead, Donnel Pumphrey and Corey Clement worked out of the backfield in relief of LeGarrette Blount.

What makes Smallwood's case all the more interesting, though, is that his role hasn't been clarified in the Eagles' running back committee. 

Blount and Darren Sproles both have clearly defined positions and skill sets. But Blount is 30 and Sproles is 34 - it's not necessarily reasonable to expect either to be a lead back at their age.  And as far as Pumphrey? He's a rookie fourth-rounder.

So the opportunity is there for Smallwood. It's just a matter of whether he'll get to prove that he's ready for it during the next few weeks.

"It felt good to run around a little bit, be out here and do my thing," Smallwood said. "I definitely want those reps - practice, game, whatever it is, I definitely want to get those reps.

"It's always motivation to get back out there whether we've got one running back, two running backs. I want to be out there and I want to get better with myself, get those reps in and see things to learn."

If last week was an indicator, the Eagles could definitely use the West Virginia product back on the field Thursday when they host the Bills. Against Green Bay, seven different players registered at least a carry for the Birds, yet those players totaled just 47 yards on 19 carries (good for an average of 2.5 yards per rush).

It still remains to be seen how Doug Pederson will split the offense between the air and the ground, but if Smallwood can show that he has the ability to make an impact, Pederson may have no choice but to put the ball in his hands.

"I definitely want to be back," Smallwood said. "I think I put the pressure on myself trying to get back. That's on me being eager to get out there, compete and show what I can do."

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