Eagles hoping to get one of their corners back next week

Eagles hoping to get one of their corners back next week

The Eagles have been losing cornerbacks at an alarming rate.

Next week, if all goes well, they’ll actually get one back.

Jalen Mills, who hasn’t played in almost a year because of a mystery foot injury, is eligible to come off the in-season PUP list on Monday. 

It’s tough not being out there," he said Thursday. "Not being able to at least play with my guys, it’s always hard.

Mills will meet with his doctor early in the week and if he’s cleared, he’ll practice when the Eagles’ work week begins on Wednesday. If that goes well, he could play against the Cowboys a week from Sunday in Arlington, Texas.

They need him.

For sure, I’m just going to be excited,” Mills said. “Adrenaline’s probably going to be going through the roof. Go out there and have a lot of energy and create some.

The Eagles for a second straight year have been decimated at cornerback.

They currently have four corners on the shelf, including Mills and Ronald Darby (hamstring), the Super Bowl starters, along with Cre’Von LeBlanc (knee) and Avonte Maddox (concussion, neck)

And that doesn’t even include Sidney Jones, who hasn’t played since early in the Packers game because of a hamstring injury but is expected back Sunday in Minnesota.

The Eagles beat the Jets on Sunday with three cornerbacks in uniform who weren’t on the team two weeks earlier - Craig James, Orlando Scandrick and Ryan Lewis.

They've used 12 cornerbacks in 23 games since last year began, and Rasul Douglas is the only one who has played in every game.

LeBlanc is on Injured Reserve and eligible to return after the Bills game in two weeks. Darby and Maddox are both on the 53-man roster right now but seem to be a ways away.

Mills, the Eagles’ 7th-round pick in 2016, became a full-time starter in 2017 and started the first eight games of 2018, but his foot began bothering him at some point toward the middle of the season, and he hasn’t played sine the Eagles-Jaguars game in London last Oct. 28.

Mills has declined to exactly what the injury was, but it does seem like it’s finally behind him.

It was something serious,” he said. “It’s a long (healing) injury. Just have to take your time with it. Training staff did a great job with me as far as my recovery and rehab and making sure I’m running good, I’m cutting, I’m planting the way I could before the injury.

It’s too early to get a sense of where the Eagles will put everybody once Mills does return to action.

Most likely Mills will start with limited reps, perhaps in the red zone, where he’s most effective.

However it lines up, the Eagles will certainly be stronger defensively with Mills than without him.

(The Cowboys has) always been the plan,” Mills said. “But it’s really all about the doctor and what he says. He’ll tell me what I can and can’t do, just sticking to the plan. They’ve had a great plan for me and I feel great now. Whatever he says I can and can’t do I’ll just follow.

How challenging has it been to go nearly a year without playing football?

As a true competitor, you want to be out there regardless of the situation,” he said. “Of course I want to be out there. … I’ve dealt with adversity before, not just the football aspect but just my life in general, so as far as that goes just keeping a strong mind and strong head. I’ve got great teammates and great coaches (and) they keep me into it.

Here are the Eagles’ starting cornerback combinations since last season began:

6 games – Darby / Mills
3 games – Maddox / Douglas / LeBlanc
2 games – Darby / Douglas / Maddox
2 games – Jones / Douglas / LeBlanc
2 games – Maddox / Douglas
2 games – Darby / Jones / Maddox
1 game – Darby / Mills / Dexter McDougle
1 game - Darby / Mills / Jones
1 game – Jones / Douglas / Maddox
1 game – Chandon Sullivan / Davonte Bausby
1 game – Douglas / Jones 
1 game – Douglas / Craig James

So they’ve used 12 starting combinations in 23 games since opening day last year.

Barring more injuries or setbacks, that number will increase soon. And that's good news for the Eagles' defense.

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Eagles' coaches to continue working at home despite NFL policy change

Eagles' coaches to continue working at home despite NFL policy change

In a bit of a surprising move, the Eagles have decided to keep their coaching staff sequestered at home, despite an NFL policy that would allow them to return to work at the NovaCare Complex on Friday.

The NFL is allowing coaches — but not players — to work at team facilities starting Friday, as long as local and state guidelines allow it.

But Doug Pederson is apparently so happy with the way virtual sessions between the coaches and players have gone over the past several weeks that he doesn't see a reason to bring his coaches into the building yet.

"The virtual collaboration over the past three months has proven that the contributions and value of our employees is not dependent upon their physical presence at the facility," the team said in a statement.

Many Eagles assistants don't live in Philadelphia year-round and the new coaches on Pederson's staff haven't had the chance to look for homes yet.

Because players aren't allowed into the complex — other than injured or rehabbing players — it wouldn't really change the way the Eagles are holding virtual OTA sessions.

The current set of offseason workouts is scheduled to end on June 25, and training camp is scheduled to begin about a month later.

The Eagles will be opening the NovaCare Complex and the Linc to a limited number of employees next week.  

"Over the last 12 weeks, our organization has remained connected, united and focused on our preparations for the upcoming season," the Eagles said in an unattributed statement. 

"We have been planning for and will begin a phased approach of gradually returning a limited number of employees to the NovaCare Complex and Lincoln Financial Field beginning Monday in compliance with the state and local guidelines, NFL policies and in consultation with medical experts."

The Eagles closed the NovaCare Complex on March 13 and players and coaches have been meeting virtually since. 

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Drew Brees fumble highlights how much Carson Wentz nailed it

Drew Brees fumble highlights how much Carson Wentz nailed it

As we watch Drew Brees backpedal, apologize and now try to smooth things over with his teammates and his city, one thing is becoming clear. 

Carson Wentz nailed it. The first time. 

Wentz last Friday became one of the first high-profile white athletes in America to speak out about the killing of George Floyd. He stopped short of specifically calling out police brutality but he condemned “institutional racism” and his approach was one of understanding and empathy. It was honest, it was refreshing and it was unifying. 

Then there’s what Brees said. 

Brees in an interview on Wednesday reiterated his response from 2016 about the peaceful protests against police brutality and racial injustice once held by NFL players during the national anthem. Brees said he will “never agree with anybody disrespecting the flag of the United States of America.” 

For Brees’s black teammates who have been fighting for racial equality, and for those affected by racial injustice, those words hurt. Not just because Brees completely missed the point of those protests but because of his complete lack of awareness. It hurt more because it came from someone they thought was an ally. 

Malcolm Jenkins on Thursday said he had spoken to Brees but he still posted his emotional responses to those comments. A strained Jenkins choked back tears as he talked about how much the words from Brees pained him. 

One of the big problems for Jenkins was the loss of trust. In an emotionally charged week, during which Jenkins has been trying to effect real change, someone he considered to be an ally, a friend, a brother, completely discounted the cause. 

To Brees’s credit, he did apologize on Thursday morning. While many will argue that his apology fell short in many areas, it’s at least a start to his rebuilding trust in the locker room and in New Orleans, where crowds of protesters on Wednesday chanted “F— Drew Brees!” Some will accept his apology, some will want to see more and some never will. 

For his sake and for the sake of his teammates, I hope the apology wasn’t hollow. I hope Brees learns why his words hurt so many. 

It’s hard to imagine Brees watching those videos of Jenkins and not wanting to rectify the situation. Imagine causing so much pain to someone you’re supposed to care about. 

While plenty of Saints players have spoken out against their quarterback’s words this week, many Eagles players have gained even more respect for their quarterback. DeSean Jackson earlier this week said his white teammates like Wentz, Zach Ertz and Jason Kelce stepped up. In that moment, Wentz wasn’t just a leader of a football team; he was a leader of the community. 

This isn’t about football right now. But eventually, there will be NFL games and it’s fair to wonder how these parallel situations will play out short-term and long-term in their respective cities. One team seems to be weaker because of this and one team seems to be stronger. 

While Brees caused what might be irreparable damage to the brotherhood of his football team and to his legacy in New Orleans, Wentz took a huge step forward as a leader of his locker room and the community. 

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