Sidney Jones

Eagles Injury Update: Sounds like Jordan Hicks is going to be OK

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Eagles Injury Update: Sounds like Jordan Hicks is going to be OK

There was some good news to come out of Doug Pederson's press conference on Friday afternoon. 

It sounds like Jordan Hicks is going to be OK. 

The Eagles' starting middle linebacker didn't return for the second half of Thursday night's game after suffering an ankle injury. Hicks was evaluated by the training staff on Friday morning. 

"Jordan's gonna be OK," Pederson said. "We'll expect him this next week in practice."

Thanks to playing a Thursday game followed by a Monday night game, Hicks will have a few extra days to heal before facing Washington. 

While the news is good for Hicks, it doesn't sound good for special teams ace Chris Maragos. Pederson said Maragos still needs to have a few more tests to determine the significance of his injuries, but it's pretty clear those injuries to his right knee are significant.  

According to Daily News' columnist Marcus Hayes, Maragos said he thinks he tore his PCL and ACL. Maragos walked out of the Eagles' locker room in Charlotte on Thursday night with a giant brace on his leg. 

This upcoming week could be a big one for injured cornerbacks Sidney Jones and Ronald Darby. 

We'll start with Jones, who is on the non-football Injury list as he recovers from the Achilles injury he suffered at the Washington pro day. By the rules of the NFI, Jones is eligible to begin practicing this week, but no decision has been made yet.  

"Again, keep the message the same with him," Pederson said. "I don't want to rush him back. He's still doing a good job with his rehab and his conditioning. Want to make sure he's fully cleared medically before we stick him back on the field."

The upcoming Washington game had been pegged as a possible return game for Darby, who has been out since dislocating his ankle in the opener. Pederson said Darby has been doing well and running more. 

But will he practice next week? 

"As of right now, probably not," Pederson said. "But again, he's close. We'll see next Monday when they get back where he's at again and make another evaluation at that time." 

Wendell Smallwood (knee), who has missed the last two games, is getting better, according to Pederson. 

In Smallwood's absence, the Eagles have been down to LeGarrette Blount, Corey Clement and Kenjon Barner. 

"Wendell's doing really good," Pederson said. "He's another one that we took on the trip and rehabbed him and got him some treatment and stuff. He's another one that, on Monday when they get back in, we'll evaluate. I'll tell you, he's close. And then on Tuesday when the players are in the building, he'll see. He's got some time to rest. I would anticipate him maybe doing a little something next week in practice but not 100 percent yet with him."

Smallwood is looking like a possible game-time decision for the Oct. 23 game at the Linc. 

Roob: Talented, young cornerbacks no 'Band-Aids' for Eagles

Roob: Talented, young cornerbacks no 'Band-Aids' for Eagles

It's hard not to wonder: With Jalen Mills on the brink of establishing himself as a true No. 1 cornerback and rookie Rasul Douglas shining in his first two NFL starts, what happens when Ronald Darby gets back? And what happens when Sidney Jones gets back?

Answer? Who cares!

All I know is that after a decade of watching recycled, over-priced, disinterested veterans like Ellis Hobbs, Nnamdi Asomugha, Byron Maxwell, Bradley Fletcher, Nolan Carroll, Cary Williams and Leodis McKelvin, it sure is encouraging to see the Eagles stockpile promising, young largely home-grown cornerbacks.

Soon after last year ended, Howie Roseman vowed to finally stop trying to solve the Eagles' cornerback problems with what he called "Band-Aids."

"What we’ve done at the cornerback position is put Band-Aids on things," he said.

And then Roseman and Joe Douglas went and did something about it.

The Eagles drafted Jones and Douglas in the second and third rounds, then traded Jordan Matthews and a third-round pick to the Bills for Darby, and with Mills returning for a second season, all of a sudden the Eagles found themselves with four promising cornerbacks 23 or younger, something unprecedented in franchise history.

The thinking was that the Eagles would be patient and take their lumps waiting for these raw, young corners to develop into legit NFL starters instead of riding the free agent veteran carousel year after year.

And that's where their plan went awry. Because Mills and Douglas are both playing at a high level, and that long-term plan seems to be way ahead of schedule.

It sure looks like for the first time since Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown first became starters 15 years ago, the Eagles have capable cornerbacks they can grow with.

Mills has come so far. He now has the technique to match his confidence. He had Terrelle Pryor most of opening day, and Pryor finished with six catches for 66 yards. Last week in Kansas City, he tracked explosive Tyreek Hill most of the game, and Hill caught four passes for 43 yards with a long gain of 18 yards. Mills drew one of the league's best Sunday — Odell Beckham Jr. — and although he caught seven passes, none went longer than 14 yards. 

Douglas, inactive on opening day, has been shockingly good in his two starts. He's proven to be a tough, hard-nosed, physical corner who makes up for average speed with very good technique, and he's as sure a tackler as the Eagles have had at corner since Brown.

How can you not be excited about these two?

The Eagles were without four defensive backs Sunday — Darby, Jaylen Watkins, Rodney McCloud and Corey Graham (five if you include Jones) — and they still beat a healthy division opponent with a Hall of Fame quarterback who threw 47 times and went after Mills and Douglas snap after snap.

I don't care what Manning's stats say, Mills and Douglas have both given the Eagles distinguished cornerback play the last two weeks, and now remind yourself that Mills just turned 23 in April, and Douglas doesn't turn 23 until next summer.

Which brings us to the future.

Jones, a projected first-round pick before his Achilles injury, has the glossiest résumé of any of these guys. He doesn't turn 22 until May. And Darby, who the Eagles liked enough to part with Matthews and a third-round pick, doesn't turn 24 until soon after the season ends.

Now maybe if the Eagles knew what they had in Douglas, they never would have made the Darby trade. But it doesn't matter at this point.

What's important is the Eagles have stocked the cornerback position with enough young talent that they should be in good shape for the foreseeable future. It's tough to find talented young cornerbacks, and the Eagles seem to have found a bunch of them.

And maybe it seems like they have too many. What do you do with all these guys?!?!?! But if you've lived through Asomugha and Maxwell and Fletcher and all the other guys the Eagles have paraded through the Linc over the last decade you're never going to worry about having too many young corners.

So what do the Eagles do when guys start coming back? And remember, even 30-year-old Patrick Robinson has been way better than expected in the slot.

We know Mills will play somewhere. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz could start Darby and Douglas and use Mills in the slot. Or he could keep Robinson in the slot with Mills and Douglas outside, leaving Darby as the fourth corner. He could go with Darby and Mills outside and Douglas in the slot.

And when Jones enters the picture? Jones and Mills outside with Douglas in the slot? Darby and Jones outside with Mills in the slot and Douglas at safety?

There are a million different ways to go, but all that stuff will sort itself out.

Really, all that's important now is that the Eagles have a stable of young corners to grow with. And not a Band-Aid in sight.

Howie Roseman breaks down decisions: 8 on OL, Nate Gerry cut, Sidney Jones update

Howie Roseman breaks down decisions: 8 on OL, Nate Gerry cut, Sidney Jones update

The Eagles cut 17 more players Saturday to get down to the NFL required the 53-man limit (see full roster)

And there were a few surprises.

The Eagles ended up keeping five running backs and six receivers but just eight offensive linemen. They kept underperforming draft picks Donnel Pumphrey and Shelton Gibson but decided to cut linebacker Nate Gerry. 

Here are some interesting notes from Roseman's press conference minutes after the roster was set: 

Light on the O-line
Keeping just eight offensive linemen is pretty unusual. Roseman talked about the potential to bring some of their young players back, but he admitted this was a new way of doing things. 

In fact, he said the Eagles looked around at the NFL to see how many teams keep just eight and it "made [them] feel better about the decision." 

After the five starters, the Eagles kept Stefen Wisniewski, Chance Warmack and Halapoulivaati Vaitai. Roseman touted their versatility, saying Wisniewski can play all three interior positions, Warmack can play right and left guard and "Big V" can play right and left tackle. 

"We think we have eight starters on the offensive line," Roseman said. "So not only [Warmack], but in Wiz and V, we think those guys are all starters in the National Football League. I know I've said this a lot, so I'm going to sound repetitive, but it's hard to find offensive linemen. It's hard to find those guys."

Gerry gets the boot
Just one of the Eagles' eight draft picks didn't make their initial 53-man roster Saturday: fifth-round linebacker Nate Gerry. 

Gerry was always going to be somewhat of a project. The Eagles brought him in to convert to linebacker after playing safety at Nebraska. It appeared that the transition was going well. But Gerry wasn't able to beat out the players in front of him. 

Roseman explained why: "Well, I think it's a credit to the other guys at that position. When you look at the guys that we kept beyond the three starters, [LB] Joe Walker had a good preseason. He's another guy coming off a knee injury. We were really bummed when he got hurt last year. He's got physical traits. It's hard to find MIKE linebackers who have shock, and he's able to do that.

"Then you look at Najee (Goode). Najee has versatility. He can back up really both the outside positions and play inside, and [he is] really a huge part of our special teams. It's important for us to be good on special teams.

"And then Kamu (Grugier-Hill), when we look at Kamu, we think he has a chance to be not only one of the better special teams players on our team but in the league. That was a tough one. That was one of the last ones we did right there. We understand it's a transition for him and it's going to take some time. But it was just the nature of the numbers game."

An update on Jones
Among the moves the Eagles made the past two days, there was one formality. The team placed second-round pick Sidney Jones on the reserve/non-football injury list. Jones is still recovering from the Achilles tear he suffered at his pro day before the draft. 

The Eagles have been noncommittal since drafting Jones about whether or not he'll play this season. They've made sure not to rush him. 

On the NFI, Jones will be eligible to practice for three weeks starting in Week 6. The Eagles have a three-week window to decide to activate Jones or send him to IR, ending his rookie season. 

"Obviously, we're talking about six weeks from now, but we have it mapped out," Roseman said. "I don't want to put any restrictions on him or expectations on him at this point. It's going to be day-to-day. But he is doing exactly what we asked of him, and we feel good about where he's at in the process."

Interestingly, Roseman said the Ronald Darby trade ensured the Eagles won't be tempted to rush Jones back to playing. 

"With Sidney, we're going to take it kind of — we have a protocol that our doctors, our trainers and our strength and conditioning staff have put in place," Roseman said. "It's very organized. It's very detailed, and we're just going to knock it down. We have a checklist at every point. He's doing a great job. But again, we have a long way to go and we want to make sure that we're getting the best of Sidney Jones."