Eagles now forced to depend on Carson Wentz even more

Eagles now forced to depend on Carson Wentz even more

It's hard to imagine tougher losses coming from such a big win. 

Jason Peters is out for the season. So is Jordan Hicks. 

And just like that, there are two more incredibly important players added to the list of incredibly important players lost for the year. 

At the beginning of the season, had someone made a list of players the Eagles couldn't afford to lose, there's a good chance several of these names would be on it.  

Two of five team captains — Peters and Chris Maragos — are gone. So is their stud middle linebacker and defensive quarterback, Hicks. And don't forget about their most versatile offensive weapon, Darren Sproles. 

"When you look at the injury list and the guys that we've lost ... guys that are significant starters and role players and leaders on your football team, captains on your football team, it can make an impact," head coach Doug Pederson said. 

The Eagles have the best record in the NFL at 6-1, but they'll have to go the rest of the way without several of their most crucial pieces and most-respected leaders. 

But they haven't lost their most important piece. 

They still have Carson Wentz. 

And if he keeps up his torrid pace, he's going to mask these losses to injury. 

Wentz isn't just playing well; he's playing at an MVP level. If that continues, the Eagles still have a great chance to coast into the playoffs and then make something special happen as one of the top seeds. 

"You want everybody to play well, obviously," Pederson said, "and if your quarterback is playing well, then yeah, you definitely have a better opportunity and a better chance of winning that game." 

That's not to say losing Peters and Hicks won't hurt. It absolutely will. The Eagles just have no choice but to soldier on. Things felt a little gloomy briefly on Tuesday afternoon when Pederson announced the bad injury news, but he also seemed optimistic about his team's chances of overcoming. 

The Eagles have shown resiliency already this season, continuing their success without key players. "Next man up" has become an overused cliché but it has also served as a rallying cry for the 2017 Eagles. 

Halapoulivaati Vaitai will fill in for Peters. Joe Walker and/or Najee Goode will fill in for Hicks. And the Eagles will face the 49ers on Sunday and the Broncos on the Sunday after that. 

"It's going to take everybody," Pederson said. "It's all hands on deck." 

That's true, of course. To say all the Eagles need is Wentz would be oversimplifying and simply not the case. They need other players to perform as well. 

But on Wednesday, when the team runs back onto the practice fields, No. 11 will be leading the way. 

As long as that's the case, this team might be able to overcome anything. 

Eagles mailbag: Moving Rasul Douglas, keeping Donnel Pumphrey

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Eagles mailbag: Moving Rasul Douglas, keeping Donnel Pumphrey

We split up your questions, so Part I of the mailbag ran yesterday (see story).

Just a reminder: training camp starts on July 25 and the first practice will be July 26. 

Let’s not waste anymore time. 

I’ve heard this a ton from people and it makes sense. Douglas seems to have what you’d look for in a safety and the Eagles value coverage skills in that position, something Douglas clearly has. So I see that as a possibility, but the Eagles have seemed hesitant to move him or even to really cross-train him. For me, the time to do it would have been during the OTAs and minicamp. Why not slide him back there for a few days to see how he handles it? That’s how I would have handled it. Without any extended time at safety in the spring, it’s hard for me to envision real cross-training in the summer. Eventually, though, you’re right; this makes sense. 

I don’t think so. Pumphrey looked a little better this spring, but he better have a great training camp. Right now, I have the Eagles keeping four running backs: Jay Ajayi, Darren Sproles, Corey Clement, Matt Jones. If they keep five, Pump has a real chance; he’d just need to beat out Wendell Smallwood for that final spot. I think he has a decent chance, but I haven’t seen enough to give him a roster spot. He’s a player I’ll be watching extremely close at training camp. 

I’ll preface this by saying I’m no punter expert, but Cameron Johnston looks pretty solid to me. He was a really good punter at Ohio State and seemed to boot the ball pretty well this spring. The Eagles were comfortable enough with him to move on from Donnie Jones. 

To answer the second part, he will be the holder for Jake Elliott. The two have been working together this spring. While Johnston held last summer, Elliott was still in Cincinnati. They have to gel. 

In my latest 53-man roster projection, I actually don’t have Tre Sullivan in there. Instead, I went with Corey Graham, who is still on the street. I agree with you that in most situations going with the younger guy is the move, but not with this team. Not this year. Graham was such an important part of last year’s team. And because the Eagles have a legitimate shot to repeat, I’d try to bring him back. The Eagles have about $6 million in cap space. Get it done. 

Hi, John. Mango. Always mango. 

Eagles Mailbag: Biggest concern on 2018 roster

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Eagles Mailbag: Biggest concern on 2018 roster

We’ve officially reached the only sort of dead period on the NFL calendar. The Eagles are through their spring practices and won’t be back at the NovaCare Complex until July 25 for the start of training camp. 

That sounds far away, but it’ll be here before you know it. 

You guys were great and gave me a ton of questions, so I’ll answer half today and half Sunday. Let’s go: 

I’m tempted to say defensive tackle just for health concerns surrounding Tim Jernigan, but I have to answer linebacker. Jordan Hicks appears to be healthy after tearing his Achilles last year, but as good as he is when healthy, it’s just tough to count on him. Two years ago, he was able to play a full season and things were looking good, but then he suffered another serious injury. If Hicks and Bradham stay healthy, linebackers aren’t a concern. The Eagles will have either Kamu Grugier-Hill, Nate Gerry or Corey Nelson take the weakside spot on base downs and they’ll be OK. 

But without Mychal Kendricks, it’s fair to be concerned about their depth at the position, especially after veteran pickup Paul Worrilow was already lost for the year. Kendricks came up huge last year as a fill-in; not sure the Eagles have that kind of depth this year. 

Not sure yet. What I can tell you about De’Vante Bausby is that he was impressive this spring and the coaching staff seems to love him. I remain very, very skeptical that he’s good enough to keep Sidney Jones off the field. With that said, I do think he’s talented enough to make the 53-man roster. We’ll get a better sense at camp when the pads go on, but I have him penciled in to make the team. 

Yes on both. The Nate Sudfeld hype is real. In our first extended looks at the young quarterback, he’s been incredibly impressive. It’s starting to make sense why the Eagles snatched him from Washington and then blocked the Colts from signing him last season. They kept him on the 53 in the second half of last year, so they’re completely prepared to keep three QBs on this year’s roster if Foles is still on the team. 

This is going to be the summer of Nate Sudfeld. We’re going to see him play a ton in those preseason games and that will let us know if he’s ready to be QB2 behind Carson Wentz. But the fact that the Eagles didn’t bring in a more experienced veteran after Wentz went down last year pretty much tells you all you need to know about what the Eagles think of him. 

We tried that. Didn’t work out well. We’re up for suggestions. 

You have no idea how out of water this fish is. This is like taking a fish from the ocean and dropping it in Kansas. 

How about Portugal? I’ll go with them because of Ronaldo.