Eagles

Eagles add tight end Josh Perkins, cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc, release defensive tackle Albert Huggins

Eagles add tight end Josh Perkins, cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc, release defensive tackle Albert Huggins

The Eagles added tight end Josh Perkins and cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc to the active roster on Saturday and both are making the trip to Miami for the Eagles’ game Sunday against the Dolphins.

Perkins had been on the practice squad, and LeBlanc had been on Injured Reserve.

The Eagles also released defensive tackle Albert Huggins. They already had one open spot on the roster after releasing Jordan Matthews on Monday.

Zach Ertz has been hobbled by a hamstring injury this week, and Dallas Goedert was the only other tight end on the roster. Goedert has 31 catches for 289 yards and a team-high four TD catches this year.

Ertz, who has twice as many yards or catches as anybody else on the roster, didn’t practice on Wednesday and was limited in practice on Friday. The Eagles didn’t practice on Thursday.

Perkins has been on the Eagles’ practice squad all year. He’s played in 17 games in his career, eight with the Falcons in 2016 and nine for the Eagles last year.  He has eight career receptions for 109 yards, including a 26-yard touchdown from Matt Ryan against the Panthers in a 33-16 win in Charlotte on Christmas Eve, 2016.

At 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, Perkins can also play some wide receiver. He caught four passes for 57 yards as a wide receiver in a game last year against the Buccaneers. Curiously, Ryan Fitzpatrick was the Buccaneers’ quarterback in that game and starts against the Eagles Sunday for the Dolphins.

Perkins is the 8th player the Eagles have signed to their 53-man roster this year off their practice squad this year, joining Alex Ellis, Bruce Hector, Boston Scott, Alex Singleton, Greg Ward, Craig James and Ryan Lewis.

Other players on the 53-man roster who have spent time on practice squads include Daeshon Hall (Texans), Huggins (Texans), Anthony Rush (Raiders), LeBlanc (Lions), Jake Elliott (Bengals), Nate Sudfeld (Eagles) and Nate Gerry (Eagles).

That means 15 players on the 53-man roster have spent time on a practice squad.

The Eagles last week opened the 21-day window for LeBlanc to practice before deciding whether to activate him or shut him down for the year. He suffered a foot injury during training camp.

“This was a good week for him,” head coach Doug Pederson said Friday.  “Not only to activate him, but to get him back in practice, get him moving around, listening to the calls and executing and all that. Yeah, he's progressing. This is a good week for him.”

LeBlanc, 25, injured his foot very early in training camp and was then put on IR. He was eligible to return after eight games, but it has taken a little longer than that. LeBlanc didn’t return to practice until Wednesday but said it went well.

The only difference between a practice and the rehab work he had been doing is there’s more cutting and changing of directions in practice. LeBlanc admitted he probably isn’t completely back in football shape, but that will come.

And the Eagles won’t put him into a huge role anyway.

The Eagles have solidified their secondary after Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby and Avonte Maddox all returned from injury. That trio has been starting for the Eagles. Perhaps LeBlanc will have a role when the Eagles use four cornerbacks in their dime package. He and Maddox offer the Eagles some versatility. As expected, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz earlier this week was coy about LeBlanc’s role.

The Eagles claimed LeBlanc off waivers last season and he ended up being a really important player down the stretch. He brought some stability to the secondary as the team’s primary nickel corner. He’ll likely be the backup nickel upon his return this year; that was his role all spring, behind Maddox.

This will be a special weekend for LeBlanc. Not only will he make his return from a long rehab process, but he’ll do it in his backyard. LeBlanc grew up in Belle Glade, Florida, about 80 miles from Miami.

The Eagles signed Huggins off the Texans’ practice squad on Oct. 21. He played 44 snaps in four games, including a season-high 15 Sunday against the Seahawks.

With Huggins gone and Malik Jackson and Hassan Ridgeway on IR, the Eagles only have three defensive tackles on the active roster: Fletcher Cox, Tim Jernigan and Anthony Rush.

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Eagle Eye podcast: A closer look at DE after addition of Vinny Curry

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Eagle Eye podcast: A closer look at DE after addition of Vinny Curry

On the latest Eagle Eye podcast, Reuben Frank, Dave Zangaro and Barrett Brooks react to the addition of Vinny Curry and what it means for the entire defensive end position. 

What about guys like Shareef Miller, Genard Avery and Joe Ostman? 

Jatavis Brown abruptly retired this weekend, which leaves the Eagles really light at the linebacker positions. The guys take a closer look. Jason Kelce and Jason Peters are forming a really interesting duo on the Eagles’ line. 

And Nate Gerry and Lane Johnson are off the Reserve/COVID-19 list. 

  • (2:06) — What the return of Vinny Curry means for Shareef Miller.
  • (16:01) — Jatavis Brown abruptly retires.
  • (25:53) — Eagles lack talented players under 25-years-old.
  • (33:16) — Jason Kelce is learning from Jason Peters.

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Robey-Coleman on unique preseason: 'It's not like we forgot how to play football'

Robey-Coleman on unique preseason: 'It's not like we forgot how to play football'

They have a new safety, two new starting cornerbacks, a new slot corner and a rookie safety. And a new coach.

They all just met. Opening day is 33 days away.

Let’s go play football!

This truncated offseason isn’t ideal for anybody, but for the Eagles’ rebuilt secondary the absence of spring practices and preseason games combined with a curtailed training camp is a particularly daunting challenge just because this unit has undergone such a transformation.

Malcolm Jenkins is gone. Jalen Mills has moved from corner to safety. Avonte Maddox moves outside to CB2. Newcomer Nickell Robey-Coleman seems to be the front-runner for the slot. And Marquand Manuel has replaced Cory Undlin as secondary coach.

It’s an incredible amount of change in a position group where chemistry and cohesion are so important.

It’s a challenge, but it’s a process that’s got to be expedited,” Robey-Coleman said Monday. “But that’s why you have seasoned veterans who can come in and adjust to the climate of an organization or a situation that’s going on outside of football, just speaking on this pandemic. Me, Slay, Rod, Mills, guys like that that have been to the playoffs, that have been deep in the playoffs, that have won Super Bowls. We know how to adjust to things like this. We’re not lost in the sauce, like we forgot how to play football.

Can a secondary come together on Zoom calls?

Can a secondary develop chemistry when the players are social distancing in the locker room?

Can a secondary learn to play together without spring workouts?

Can a secondary learn what its new coach is looking for when they just met him a few weeks before opening day?

This is what this group is trying to accomplish.

“Just knowing that, ‘Hey, man we’re all in this thing together, we all gotta do this thing together,’” Robey-Coleman said. “We are stronger together, that’s been our motto the whole offseason, and coach (Doug) Pederson has been harping on that with us. So we just always have the mindset of doing everything together. No man is left behind. Iron sharpens iron. We’re all out here trying to get each other better. We’re all out here just trying to get a full understanding of each other, knowing that there’s new guys, new additions on the team and on the defense. So just being on the same page, talking to each other, communicating. ‘Hey, do you like to press? What do you like to do?’ Just knowing each others’ personalities and knowing how we could formulate the defense and make it easier for everyone to work better and work smarter.”

Robey-Coleman, who signed with the Eagles after four years with the Bills and three with the Rams, said finding ways to accelerate that growth process has been a constant point of emphasis since this shortened training camp began.

“Some guys might have done it like this in the past, but now we do it like this,” NRC said. “So it’s just little small nuances of the defenses that we just have to have down pat in order to be understood all the way across the board from every level of the defense, from the secondary to the linebackers to the d-line. So if we can get all of that to come together in a cool amount of time I feel like we’ll be OK for week one, and from there we’ll just make small adjustments from there going on throughout the season.”

This secondary has a lot of questions to answer and not a lot of time to answer them. 

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