Eagles' Avonte Maddox trending toward a return in NFC Championship Game?


Will Avonte Maddox return for NFC Championship Game? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Avonte Maddox practiced on Thursday for the first time since suffering a toe injury on Christmas Eve.

And after Thursday's session, Maddox said he felt good.

"It's a day-by-day thing," Maddox said. "It's an injury and it's always going to be a day-by-day thing. I feel like closer to the game I get, I'll know how it'll feel really to be out there playing."

Does Maddox think he'll be able to play?

"As of now, I don't really know," Maddox said. "It's like a day-by-day thing."

Maddox wasn't ready to definitively say he would be ready to play on Sunday in the NFC Championship Game, but head coach Nick Sirianni has said he's "hopeful" to have Maddox back. Things might be trending that way.

In a limited viewing window of Thursday's practice, Maddox looked pretty good.

While the Eagles had several players limited for rest on Thursday, just two were again limited for injuries: Lane Johnson (groin) and Maddox (toe).

Johnson is fully expected to continue to play through a torn adductor in his groin, which means the Eagles will have at least 21 of 22 starters on the field in the conference championship game. If Maddox is able to play it would be 22 of 22, which would be remarkable.

Maddox injured his toe on a 10-yard sack of Dak Prescott in that Christmas Eve game down in Dallas. He celebrated and then realized something was wrong, although he didn't want to divulge the exact nature of the injury on Thursday.

"I realized it when I got up and then I looked at my cleat and I was like, 'Oh it's cool.' I thought my cleat was messed up," Maddox said. "Then I did the celebration and I landed and it still feels messed up. It was still messed up so that's when I went to the sideline."

Maddox remained on the sideline for the rest of that game and missed the final two of the regular season and the divisional round game against the Giants. In recent weeks, the Eagles have used C.J. Gardner-Johnson as their slot corner in the nickel package and rookie Reed Blankenship has played well at safety in his place.

So the loss of Maddox was actually felt less than some might have expected. But it would obviously be a better situation to be back at full strength, even if that means Blankenship's role will be reduced.

Because it appears that Maddox will at least be close to returning this weekend, if the Eagles win on Sunday, he's almost guaranteed to be back for Super Bowl LVII. But the Eagles have to make it there first and it would help to have a healthy Maddox back on Sunday.

If he is on that field, Maddox won't baby his recovering toe.

"I'm going to be me," Maddox said. "When I get on the field, I'm gonna always be me. Ain't no holding back. I'm going to go hard. When y'all see me out there on the field, you're going to see Avonte Maddox. There you go."

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