Jim Schwartz wasn’t biting.
Now inside of two weeks before the start of the season, Schwartz was asked flatly by a reporter on Monday who won the competition for the starting cornerback job opposite Ronald Darby.
“Nice try,” the Eagles defensive coordinator said.
The Eagles signed Darby to a one-year deal this offseason and it’s been assumed that once he’s healthy coming back from his ACL recovery, he’ll start on one side. And based on training camp practices, it looks like Avonte Maddox will be the nickel cornerback. That leaves either Rasul Douglas or Sidney Jones as the other starter.
Schwartz was not ready to divulge that plan just yet.
“Honestly, we’re still working,” Schwartz said. “We’re not 100 percent set in stone. I’m sure the Washington team would like to know where we are right now with all that stuff. We’ll just play it close to the vest and see what are best groups are and see how we can manage.
“I don’t know if it’s realistic for some players coming back from injuries, and we have a lot who haven’t played in preseason, I don’t know it’s realistic for those guys to play every single snap. That’ll probably be a case-by-case basis. We’ll see where it is.”
The last part of that answer is interesting. Perhaps if Darby does start in Week 1, he won’t play the whole game. That would give the Eagles an opportunity to play Douglas and Jones against Washington. But it seems like only one of them will be a starter. Either way, that means sending a talented player to the bench.
Expectations for Fletcher Cox
The Eagles’ best player is still recovering from surgery on his foot from an injury he suffered in the Saints playoff game. While Doug Pederson said he was confident Cox will be ready for Week 1, the Eagles’ All-Pro defensive tackle missed practice again on Tuesday.
It’s becoming fair to be concerned about if or how much Cox will be able to play in the season opener on Sept. 8.
While other players returning from injury — like Darby, Nigel Bradham and Derek Barnett — have been at least limited participants in practice, we haven’t seen much of Cox in a while. He again missed the first two practices of this week.
“He’s a veteran player and he’s been around,” Schwartz said. “The main thing is making sure he’s healthy and in shape and focused. I know he’s focused and he’s driving with all the other things. We’ll see where he gets.”
Even if Cox is able to start the opener, it’s fair to wonder how much he’ll play. He’s been doing some things, but it can be hard to stay in football shape when a guy isn’t playing football. Just think about how long it took Brandon Graham to round into form last year after starting the season with an ankle injury.
Will Daeshon Hall make the team?
If Hall doesn’t make the Eagles roster, it won’t be for lack of effort. He leads the Eagles in sacks (3), TFLs (4), QB hits (8) and forced fumbles (2) this preseason and Schwartz on Monday seemed impressed by the 2017 third-round pick, who flamed out quickly in Carolina.
Schwartz, in particular, seemed impressed by the work Hall did this offseason to put on weight and about Hall’s toughness after returning from a shoulder injury in the first preseason game.
“Sometimes numbers can be different at positions, sometimes there’s all kinds of different things whether somebody makes the team or not,” Schwartz said. “But he’s certainly put himself in a good position.”
If Hall doesn’t make the team, we’ll have a better sense of just how little the preseason can mean. Earlier this month, Pederson revealed that the team puts less weight into preseason games vs. practice when making their evaluations.
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