Eagles

Examining the Eagles' endless rash of cornerback injuries

Examining the Eagles' endless rash of cornerback injuries

With injuries continuing to plague the cornerback position, the Eagles yesterday signed … 

OK, how many stories have you read in the past 13 months that started out that way?

This time it’s Orlando Scandrick, but one constant of the Eagles since last year started has been cornerback injuries.

Rasul Douglas — knock on wood — is the only regular corner that hasn’t missed extensive time with injuries.

Cornerback injuries decimated the Eagles last year. They started the season in Tampa with Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby as the starters and Avonte Maddox, Douglas and Sidney Jones as the backups and they finished it with Cre’Von LeBlanc, Douglas and Maddox as the starters and Josh Hawkins off the bench.

The carousel hasn’t stopped turning this year. 

LeBlanc is on IR. Mills is on PUP. Darby left the Lions game with a hamstring injury and Jones left the Packers game with a hamstring injury.

The Eagles beat Hall of Fame quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers Thursday night at Lambeau Field with two healthy corners, one of whom entered the game having never played a regular-season defensive snap.

That was Craig James, who had been on the practice squad two days earlier. He wound up making the defensive play of the season so far, deflecting a last-ditch Aaron Rodgers pass that Nigel Bradham intercepted, sealing the Eagles’ 34-27 win over the Packers.

Now Scandrick, who spent the summer here, is back on the roster, and when he plays against the Jets Sunday he’ll become the 11th cornerback and 20th defensive back to play for the Eagles since opening day 2018. 

But unless Darby is able to get back without missing a game, the Eagles still have only three healthy corners — only one of whom has played more than two snaps in an Eagles uniform.

Mills will be eligible to return for the Cowboys game on Oct. 20. LeBlanc will be eligible two weeks later. There’s a kid named Ajene Harris on the practice squad.

But four games into the season, the Eagles find themselves in the same predicament they’ve been in for most the last two years.

Trying to cobble together a healthy, productive cornerback rotation in an age where three- and four-receiver sets are the norm and the Eagles face a Hall of Fame quarterback seemingly every other week.

“It’s challenging,” Doug Pederson said. “It is challenging. Just like it was with the receivers, now it's affecting the defensive backs. So it's a challenging deal. Fortunately, we have some days here to get guys healthy.”

That said, here’s a look at the Eagles’ cornerback injuries and roster movement on a day-to-day basis since last year began. I didn’t include players the Eagles signed and released during the offseason who were never on the 53-man roster or practice squad during the season:

Eagles' cornerback activity since 2018
Sept. 2, 2018: Signed De’Vante Bausby to the practice squad
Sept. 2, 2018: Signed Chandon Sullivan to the practice squad
Sept. 11, 2018: Released De’Vante Bausby from the practice squad 
Oct. 11, 2018: Sidney Jones left Giants game with hamstring injury
Oct. 16, 2018: Signed Dexter McDougle
Oct. 25, 2018: Promoted Chandon Sullivan to the 53-man roster
Oct. 28, 2018: Jalen Mills left Jaguars game with shin injury
Nov. 5, 2018: Claimed Cre’Von LeBlanc off waivers from the Lions
Nov. 5, 2018: Released Dexter McDougle
Nov. 5: Signed De’Vante Bausby to the practice squad
Nov. 17: Promoted De’Vante Bausby to the active roster
Nov. 17: Placed Ronald Darby on Injured Reserve (knee)
Nov. 18: Ronald Darby left Saints game with knee injury 
Nov. 18: Sidney Jones left Saints game with knee injury
Nov. 18: Avonte Maddox left Saints game with knee injury
Nov. 20: Signed Jeremiah McKinnon to the practice squad
Dec. 8: Placed Jalen Mills on Injured Reserve (foot)
Dec. 9: Sidney Jones left Cowboys game with hamstring injury
Dec. 11: Signed Josh Hawkins to the practice squad
Dec. 24: Promoted Josh Hawkins to the active roster
Dec. 24: Released De’Vante Bausby
Dec. 24: Released Chandon Sullivan
Dec. 26: Signed Chandon Sullivan to the practice squad
Jan. 14: Signed Jeremiah McKinnon to future contract
Jan. 14: Signed Chandon Sullivan to future contract
March 15: Signed Ronald Darby 
May 1: Waived Chandon Sullivan
May 10: Signed Jay Liggins
July 26: Claimed Alex Brown off waivers
July 27: Signed Orlando Scandrick
Aug. 4: Signed Ajene Harris
Aug. 16: Released Jay Liggins
Aug. 31: Placed Jalen Mills on PUP
Sept. 2: Signed Cre’Von LeBlanc
Sept. 2: Placed Cre’Von LeBlanc on Injured Reserve (foot)
Sept. 2: Signed Craig James to the practice squad
Sept. 11: Promoted Craig James to the 53-man roster
Sept. 12: Signed Ajene Harris to the practice squad
Sept. 17: Released Craig James
Sept. 18: Signed Craig James to the practice squad
Sept. 22: Ronald Darby left Lions game with hamstring injury
Sept. 24: Promoted Craig James to the active roster
Sept. 26: Sidney Jones left Packers game with hamstring injury
Sept. 26: Avonte Maddox left Packers game with concussion and neck injury
Sept. 27: Signed Orlando Scandrick 

And here’s a look at the 10 cornerbacks the Eagles have used since opening day last year with the number of starts they’ve made first and the number of games they’ve played second:

Rasul Douglas: 11-22
Avonte Maddox: 14-19
Ronald Darby: 12-12
Jalen Milles: 8-8
Sidney Jones: 7-13
Cre'Von LeBlanc: 1-10
De'Vante Bausby: 1-6
Chandon Sullivan: 1-5
Dexter McDougle: 1-2
Josh Hawkins: 0-3
Craig James: 0-2



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What has Miles Sanders done to turn his season around?

What has Miles Sanders done to turn his season around?

Remember how overmatched Miles Sanders looked after gaining just 25 yards on 11 carries in the opener against the Redskins? Remember how lost he looked a week later when he was just 10-for-28 in Atlanta?

Three weeks into his rookie season, Sanders was averaging 3.1 yards per carry and ranked 28th out of 33 qualifying running backs.

Six from the bottom.

Since then?

Sanders has blossomed.

In the Eagles’ last nine games, Sanders is averaging 5.1 yards per carry, 7th-best in the league of 53 backs during that span.

Six from the top.

In a season with very few positives, Sanders’ development has been fun to watch.

What’s been the difference?

Sanders is just seeing things better, he’s running more decisively and he's moving the chains forward.

Nothing demonstrates that better than his percentage of carries that have gone for one or fewer yards.

In his first game, more than half his carries went for one or fewer yards (6 of 10). Through five games he was still at 35 percent, with 19 of 53 runs that went less than two yards.

In the last seven games, that number has dropped precipitously. Of his 62 carries since the Vikings game, only nine — nine of 62 — have been one or fewer yards. 

“I feel like I’ve been getting better and better each week,” the second-round pick from Penn State said. “Everybody’s been telling me that, but most importantly, I’ve been noticing it myself, just trying to get better and do it each week. I feel more confident just as far as reading where I’m supposed to be, getting my eyes in the right place and just playing ball out there.”

Sanders has 520 rushing yards and needs 118 to break LeSean McCoy’s franchise rookie rushing record of 637, set in 2009.

He has 879 scrimmage yards and needs 130 to break DeSean Jackson’s franchise rookie scrimmage yards record of 1,008, set in 2008.

Going into this weekend, he was second to Raiders 1st-round pick Josh Jacobs among rookies with 879 scrimmage yards and fourth in rushing (behind Jacobs, David Montgomery and Devin Singletary).

Is Doug Pederson using Sanders enough?

That’s a different question. 

Sanders is averaging 4.5 yards per carry overall but still has only the 30th-most carries in the league and the 25th-most touches among running backs. 

“I think you're seeing the patience in the running game,” Doug Pederson said. “His vision is better, it's improved from Week 1 to Week 13. The more he gets time, the more he gets snaps, the better he'll get.”

Sanders has taken care of the production. Now it’s up to Pederson to take care of getting him more snaps.

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Eagles vs. Giants live: Highlights and analysis from NFL Week 14 game

Eagles vs. Giants live: Highlights and analysis from NFL Week 14 game

9:57 a.m.: Good morning, everyone! 

We have waited a long time for tonight, but the Eagles will host Eli Manning and the Giants tonight at the Linc. Here are five matchups to watch.

If you’re heading to the game, bring your rain gear. 

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