Eagles

What Ronald Darby's return means for rest of Eagles' secondary

What Ronald Darby's return means for rest of Eagles' secondary

There are going to be a lot of moving pieces in the Eagles' secondary very soon.

Most likely this weekend.

Ronald Darby will move from a long-term injury layoff back into the starting lineup at left cornerback. Jalen Mills will move from left corner — where he's played very well in Darby's eight-game absence — back over to right cornerback. And Rasul Douglas will move from right corner to a lesser role. This from defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who warned that he's still not positive Darby will be ready to return this weekend.

Darby, who the Eagles acquired from the Bills a month before opening day, hasn't played since suffering an ankle injury in the opener in Washington.

Although he's been practicing for a few weeks, Schwartz said his status for the Eagles-Cowboys game Sunday night in Arlington, Texas, won't be determined until the defensive coaches see him practice this week.

"There's really nothing set in stone right now because we don't 100 percent know if he's going to be back," Schwartz said.

"He's trending the right way, he was back on the practice field (Monday). He was back on the practice field last week doing some scout team stuff. So that will sort of develop as we go."

And when Darby does return, he'll go back to left corner, where he played in Buffalo and where he opened the season.

"Most likely, most likely," Schwartz said. "He's played the left a long time. Those guys can all play both positions. They can all play both sides. I think that's important.

"Again, this is further on down the line, but if we get in positions where we want to match a receiver, he has the ability to do that. Last week, on the practice field, he took turns at both sides, and I think that's just for overall development.

"The one thing is, if there's two wide receivers and the corners have to match, you're going over to the right side anyway, so both guys have to be able to play both positions. But that's the position we sort of settled on to start the season — the left corner, and I would anticipate when he's healthy and ready to go that he would go back into that spot."

Douglas, the third-round pick from West Virginia, is tied for second among NFL rookies with two interceptions after being inactive in the opener.

Schwartz said the 22-year-old Douglas will still have some sort of role even when Darby does return.

"We've gotten contributions from a lot of different guys this year," he said Tuesday. "I would expect that to stay the same.

"The way those DBs work, it's just a matter of time before they're out there. Everybody has a role somewhere along the line, and we'll try to keep that in place and keep a lot of people involved. We've done that by necessity and also by plan so far this year."

Patrick Robinson will remain in the slot, where he's been all year, other than the second half of the 49ers game, which he missed with a concussion.

His reps were taken that day by Dexter McDougle, who was released last week, coinciding with Darby's anticipated return.

Eagles' Dannell Ellerbe, Will Beatty playing catch-up with new team

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USA Today Images

Eagles' Dannell Ellerbe, Will Beatty playing catch-up with new team

After signing with the Eagles about a week and a half ago, Will Beatty has been working hard to catch up. 

He's learning a new offense, new terminology, new teammates. 

And a new building. 

"I'm still trying to figure out where everything is here," Beatty said. "A lot of the doors here are not labeled, so it's like 'where does this door lead?'"

Eventually, the 32-year-old offensive tackle finds where he's going. For the most part, he just tries to follow his teammates. When he's the only player around, he begins to worry and checks the schedule to make sure he's not missing something. 

Beatty isn't alone. He was brought in last week a day after the Eagles signed veteran linebacker Dannell Ellerbe. Both players are veterans over 30. Both players have won a Super Bowl. And both are playing catch-up. 

How has it been going? 

"Really good," head coach Doug Pederson said. "In both cases, picking up the offense with Will and the defense with Dannell. Dannell has probably gotten a couple of reps with our defense in the past couple of weeks. Both of them are doing really, really well."

While Ellerbe has gotten some practice reps, don't expect him to have a role with the defense just yet. Pederson on Friday morning said Ellerbe's role is still to get comfortable with the defense. 

While Jim Schwartz said Ellerbe was going to learn all three linebacker positions, Ellerbe has been focusing more on MIKE and SAM. The former Saint said he likes to learn the entire concept of the defense. The biggest hurdle is learning the new terminology. 

"I've been sitting out since OTAs, so it's been a while," Ellerbe said. "It's like riding a bike. Just repetition."

Both players were inactive against the Cowboys, less than a week after their arrivals. It is yet to be seen if either will have roles down the stretch. 

When Beatty eventually finds his way to the practice field, he has been working with the Eagles' second-team offense, which means he's going against the Eagles' first-team defense every day. That's a good way to shake off some rust. 

For now, second-year player Joe Walker has been playing the MIKE position in the Eagles' base defense. If Ellerbe were to ever get on the field, it would likely be in that spot. But Walker has been playing OK since Jordan Hicks went down. 

During meetings, Beatty pretty much stays quiet when he has questions. He writes down what he doesn't understand and then brings it to offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland afterward so he doesn't slow down the entire group. It's basically like seeing a teacher after class for extra help. 

One of the tough parts about joining a team in the middle of the season is everyone is already settled into a routine. Beatty and Ellerbe are working just to catch up. 

"It's a little different, but would much rather be doing this than anything else," Beatty said. "This is a great organization. Everyone welcomed me with open arms."

Eagles Injury Update: Jake Elliott (concussion) cleared to play vs. Bears

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Eagles Injury Update: Jake Elliott (concussion) cleared to play vs. Bears

After a week of worrying, everyone can finally relax. 

Jake Elliott is going to play on Sunday. 

The Eagles' kicker officially cleared the NFL's concussion protocol on Friday morning, when he was cleared by an independent neurologist. Throughout the week it looked likely that Elliott would be able to play, but it didn't become official until Friday. 

Elliott suffered a concussion against the Cowboys during the first half of Sunday's game at AT&T Stadium. The Eagles needed to finish the game going for two-point conversions and with linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill kicking off. 

Beau Allen (knee) and Trey Burton (back) will both be game-time decisions, according to head coach Doug Pederson. 

Burton's back spasms came from the game on Sunday and he has been dealing with the issue all week. He missed practice on Thursday. If Burton can't play, the Eagles would go into Sunday's game with two tight ends — Zach Ertz and Brent Celek. If Burton is inactive, Celek will likely have an increased role, Pederson said. 

If Allen can't play, it's likely rookie Elijah Qualls will be active for the first time since the Arizona game. Qualls has played just eight defensive snaps all season.