Jordan Hicks

Ronald Darby returns to practice for Eagles, status for Monday uncertain

Ronald Darby returns to practice for Eagles, status for Monday uncertain

There's some good news coming out of the NovaCare Complex on Thursday: Ronald Darby is back at practice. 

Head coach Doug Pederson said Darby, who has missed every game since the opener with a dislocated ankle, will practice this week, at least as a limited participant. 

"I can't commit at this time if he's going to be ready (to play on Monday night)," Pederson said, "but we're going to give him some reps this week and see where he's at but he's doing extremely well."

Darby will be practicing this week but it seems unlikely he'll play on Monday night at the Linc. Pederson said "stars (would) have to align" for that to happen. 

Still, practicing is a great sign.

Darby was carted off the field in the second quarter of the opener against Washington with a pretty gruesome-looking ankle injury. It looked like his season was over. But the Eagles put a "4-6 week" label on the injury and there's a reason they didn't put him on IR. 

The injury was a dislocated ankle that didn't need surgery. That last time he spoke to reporters, in mid-September, Darby was confident he'd return in 4-6 weeks. 

So what would Darby have to show to play this week? 

"Obviously with the time off, there's a lot of things that are involved, conditioning No. 1," Pederson said. "That's probably the most important thing. How sore does he get during the week? And by no means do I want to rush him back and just say 'hey, we said this is the week, let's go play.' There's a lot of factors that have to be sort of right, stars have to align for him to be ready to go. But this week will be good just to get back and begin that process of practice and getting that conditioning back."

Darby's return to practice isn't the only good news on Thursday. Jordan Hicks (ankle) and Wendell Smallwood (knee) will also practice. 

Hicks left last week's game early with that ankle injury but Pederson said Hicks is "fine " and there "should be no issues."  

Smallwood has missed the last two games with a knee injury he suffered in LA against the Chargers. Pederson said Smallwood will be limited to start the week but they'll ramp it up as the week goes on. 

Eagles LB Joe Walker named Ed Block Courage Award winner

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Eagles LB Joe Walker named Ed Block Courage Award winner

Eagles linebacker Joe Walker, who missed all of last year with a serious knee injury, has been voted by his teammates this year's Eagles recipient of the prestigious 2017 Ed Block Courage Award. 

Walker joins such hallowed names in Eagles history as Andre Waters, Kevin Turner, Correll Buckhalter, Chad Lewis and Jason Avant in receiving the award, given annually to a player on each team who shows a commitment to the principles of sportsmanship and courage on and off the field.   

Walker, a seventh-round pick out of Oregon in 2016, suffered a knee injury the second week of training camp last summer but bounced back to make the 53-man roster this year and has played in all six games for the 5-1 Eagles.

With Jordan Hicks hurt in the second half Thursday night in Charlotte, Walker played a career-high 13 snaps on defense against the Panthers. He's played 53 special teams snaps this year.

Ed Block was the Colts’ trainer from 1954 through 1977 after earning a Purple Heart in the Army under General Patton in the tank corps in World War II.

The 32 Ed Block Courage Award winners will be honored at the annual Ed Block Courage banquet in Baltimore this spring.

For more information on the program, go to www.EdBlock.org.

Here is a list of all the Eagles’ Ed Block Courage Award winners since the inception of the program in 1984: 
 
2017     Joe Walker
2016     Nolan Carroll
2015     Fletcher Cox
2014     Jeremy Maclin
2013     Jason Kelce
2012     Colt Anderson
2011     Mike Patterson
2010     Jason Avant
2009     Michael Vick
2008     Jon Dorenbos
2007     Montae Reagor
2006     Jerome McDougle
2005     Chad Lewis
2004     Derrick Burgess
2003     Correll Buckhalter
2002     Shawn Barber
2001     Duce Staley & Tommy Brasher
2000     Cecil Martin
1999     Mike Mamula
1998     Bobby Taylor
1997     Rhett Hall
1996     Kevin Turner
1995     Charlie Garner
1994     Fred Barnett
1993     Andre Waters
1992     Jerome Brown
1991     David Alexander
1990     Ron Solt
1989     Mike Quick
1988     Wes Hopkins
1987     Gerry Feehery
1986     Jody Schultz
1985     Ron Jaworski
1984     John Spagnola

Mychal Kendricks, Nigel Bradham deserve equal credit for Eagles' hot start

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Mychal Kendricks, Nigel Bradham deserve equal credit for Eagles' hot start

A lot of accolades are being distributed after the Eagles' gutsy road win over the Panthers. And there is a multitude of worthy recipients.

There’s Carson Wentz, whose skill and rapid understanding of the NFL game may be overridden only by his toughness.

Or the return of Fletcher Cox and the immediate impact he made from a calf injury that held him out the previous two games.

How about Doug Pederson, who continues to quiet the critics while he out-schemes opposing coaches on a weekly basis? 

Maybe you’re more inclined toward the rookie kicker who was plucked off the Bengals' practice squad and has gone 10 for 10 since his big left tackle threatened him?

When you start a season 5-1 with four of those games on the road, there is a lot of credit to be divvied up.

But how about a little love for those Eagles' linebackers? Nigel Bradham and Mychal Kendricks were everywhere against Carolina. The duo combined to register a whopping 17 tackles, including two for losses and two passes defended. This was despite, or perhaps because of losing Jordan Hicks in the first half of the game (see injury update).

The numbers alone don’t tell the story. Both players made game-altering tackles. The kind that stops the opposition from scoring a touchdown, like Bradham’s takedown of Christian McCaffrey just shy of the end zone on a 3rd-and-Goal in the third quarter. Instead of an 18-17 game, the Panthers settled for three points to make it 18-13. There were countless form tackles that prevented third-down conversions and forced punts. Game-changing plays.   

This really has been the case all season with this unit. Kendricks seemed destined for a ticket out of town after a couple of lackluster seasons in which his playing time had dwindled. But since training camp, he has been a man possessed and mirrors the playmaker the Eagles gave big bucks to in 2015. Bradham had a good year last season — his first with the Eagles — and despite a bit of a slow start this year, has come on strong of late. The two lead the Eagles in tackles this season. Not far behind on the list is Hicks, whose skill and versatility have never been in question, only his ability to stay on the field. This is a strong group.

Finding yourself near the end of the receiving line when it comes to praise — because there are so many other positive developments through six games — is a good problem to have. The kind of first-world problems Eagles fans would have signed up for on the spot prior to the season.