Will Rodney McLeod be ready to play Sunday?
It’s a good question with no clear answer yet.
And Darius Slay only made the whole thing even more confusing.
McLeod, activated off the PUP injury list a week ago Monday, was listed as limited on Wednesday, the Eagles’ first day of practice leading up to the opener against the Falcons that the Eagles were required to release an injury report.
McLeod participated in individual drills during the portion of practice open to the media, which means he was either limited or did not participate at all in team drills, which are closed to the media.
In most cases, players returning from significant injuries will have to participate in at least one week of team drills before they get into a game.
McLeod suffered a torn ACL in his left knee last Dec. 13 in a game against the Saints at the Linc. He resumed practicing in individual drills last Tuesday and said after practice he wasn’t sure yet whether he’d be ready for the season opener in Atlanta.
“It felt good for the first day,” McLeod said last week after his first practice in nearly nine months. “It’s a first step and regards to Week 1, just trust the trainers and take it one day at a time and they’ll monitor my progression as these days go on and we get closer."
Earlier in the day, Slay seemed to indicate that McLeod wouldn’t be playing, when he said this:
“He looks amazing, doing his thing. Man, wish he was out there, but he’s doing good. Watching him during the offseason, it brought tears to my eyes to see how hard he’s working to try to get back with us. Unfortunately, I wish he was out here Week 1, but you know how the NFL rules are. But he’s been doing well. Proud of him.”
Considering that he made this statement after walkthrough but before practice it seemed to indicate McLeod had not participated in walkthrough, which would be a clear indication he wouldn’t be playing Sunday.
But the Eagles later clarified Slay’s remarks, saying he simply did not know the roster rules and mistakenly thought McLeod was still on PUP and unable to play. Since the Eagles carried McLeod on the 53-man roster through final cuts, he became immediately eligible to practice and play.
Whether Slay was just confused about the PUP rule or he was accurately commenting on McLeod’s status for Sunday — or both — it's impossible to tell at this point.
If anybody can play on Sunday without a full week of practice, it's someone like McLeod, who's in his 10th NFL season and has started over 100 games for the Rams and Eagles.
What if McLeod can't play?
Three safeties got first-team reps during McLeod’s absence in training camp — K’Von Wallace, Marcus Epps and Andrew Adams.
Wallace just resumed practice last week after an injury of his own and Adams is now on the Buccaneers’ practice squad, so Epps — who started five games for the Eagles last year — would appear to be the most likely starter Sunday if McLeod is indeed unavailable. Wallace, who started three games last year as a rookie fourth-round pick, missed time in camp this summer with shoulder and groin injuries.
McLeod, 31, has started 62 games at safety since joining the Eagles in 2016, missing 13 with an ACL tear in 2018 and three last year. He’s one of nine players left from Doug Pederson’s first year as head coach and one of 11 left that played in the Super Bowl.