By Kevin McGuire

The Philadelphia Eagles are in the midst of a demoralizing losing streak with a short week to prepare for their next game. The Eagles host the division rival New York Giants on Thursday night and will be happy to have one starting offensive lineman return to the trenches. Meanwhile, the future outlook of the team’s draft fortunes focuses on Minnesota in the final weeks.

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Lane Johnson returns to starting lineup

The offensive line will welcome back one of its key players this week as Lane Johnson returns from a 10-game suspension. Johnson should be fresh, which is good, as the Eagles are coming off a short week to face the New York Giants on Thursday night. With Johnson back at right tackle, the Eagles will be able to tweak their line a little bit. With a handful of injuries to offensive linemen, the health of the line will be determined after head coach Doug Pederson evaluates the status of Allen Barbre, Halapoulivaati Vaitai and Isaac Seumalo.

“Going into this game, considering the nature of the injuries that we’ve had and everything and with Lane being back today, Lane will go in as the starter,” Pederson said this week.

With two games left in the season, having Johnson back helps provide some stability and much-needed depth and flexibility.

The Eagles are no fans of playing on Thursday night

The NFL has made a big push to make Thursday night football a thing that the public cares about, even if a growing number of players and critics point out the flaws in continuing to play on Thursday nights. The vocal critics have gotten louder this year with players like J.J. Watt and Richard Sherman speaking out about the health (and quality of play) concerns, and now the Eagles are joining the chorus.

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“I think every player kind of understands the toll that those games take on your body,” safety Malcolm Jenkins told reporters. “I think that Thursday games, and the talk about adding two more games [to the regular-season schedule], those are going to be hot topics as we get closer and closer to the end of that [Collective Bargaining Agreement] deal.”

Thursday night games are not likely to go away in 2017, but how the games fit into the schedule may be adjusted. Forcing teams to play on four days of rest may not be entirely unavoidable in the schedule making, but giving teams a bye week before playing a Thursday night game should absolutely be attempted to provide for the maximum recovery time from the previous game and the next.

Looking forward to the 2017 NFL Draft

Regardless of what happens with the Eagles in the next two weeks, all eyes will be on the Minnesota Vikings. That is because the Eagles traded away their first-round draft pick to the Cleveland Browns, and are currently doing their best to assure the Browns’ two top-10 picks that will likely somehow go to waste in glorious fashion, if history is any indication. But the Eagles will receive the Vikings’ first-round pick in the 2017 NFL Draft.

The Eagles received the top pick from the Vikings in the upcoming draft in the Sam Bradford trade. After the Vikings were steamrolled at home by the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, Minnesota dropped to 7-7 this season. That would put the Eagles with anywhere between the 13th and 15th pick in the 2017 NFL Draft if the current draft order holds (the Vikings have the same record as the Buffalo Bills and Colts, and it’s too early to worry about tiebreakers).

The Vikings play at the Green Bay Packers this week, and the way the Pack has been playing in the second half of the season, it looks like the Vikings could take at least one more loss this season.

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Go, Pack, go!