Eagles Insider

Eagles' only decent edge rusher in jeopardy of missing Bucs game

Eagles Insider

It's hard enough pressuring Tom Brady. Now the Eagles may have to face that task without their only productive edge rusher.

Josh Sweat, who had a career-high 7½ sacks during the regular season, is listed as questionable for the Eagles-Buccaneers wild-card game Sunday in Tampa.

Sweat, the Eagles' 4th-round pick in 2018, did not practice at all this week because of what coach Nick Sirianni on Friday called abdominal pain.

Sweat is the only Eagles edge rusher who had more than 2.0 sacks this year. The Bucs allowed one sack every 22.1 dropbacks, by far the best ratio in the NFL this year.

"Josh is questionable," Sirianni said. "He's back in the building today, he had some abdominal pain early in the week, but he's getting a little bit better each day. Don't know his status for the game yet, but I'll tell you he's questionable."

Brady threw 709 passes this year and was sacked only 22 times. The Eagles ranked 31st in the NFL with just 29 sacks, the fewest in franchise history.

If the Eagles have to play without Sweat, it would leave them with just Derek Barnett, Ryan Kerrigan and Tarron Jackson as edge rushers on the active roster. Those three had a combined 3.0 sacks this year, none over the last seven games.

Barnett, the 14th pick in the 2017 draft, had just 2.0 sacks this year. Kerrigan, a four-time Pro Bowler with Washington, didn't have any. Jackson, a rookie 6th-round pick, had one in the Detroit game.

Cameron Malveaux has played in the last three games as a practice-squad elevation and has two QB hits in 66 snaps. He has 2.0 career sacks -- one with the Dolphins in 2017 and one with the Cards in 2018. He remains on the practice squad, and Matt Leo is also on the practice squad.

 

Brandon Graham, who made his first Pro Bowl last year, ruptured his Achilles Week 2 against the 49ers and is out for the season.        

Sweat, still only 24, didn't play on defense as a rookie but has had 4.0, 6.0 and 7½ sacks in each of the last three years. The Eagles gave him a three-year, $40 million contract extension in September.

Sweat only had 1½ sacks through the first seven games of the season but added 6.0 in the next 10 as the Eagles went 7-3 to clinch a playoff berth.

Nate Herbig is also listed as questionable for Sunday with an ankle injury he suffered in the win over Washington the Linc on Dec. 26.

Herbig was limited at practice on Wednesday and Thursday and did not practice on Friday.

Herbig started the last four meaningful games of the season - all wins - at right guard after Jack Driscoll went on Injured Reserve with an ankle injury of his own. Brandon Brooks, the Eagles’ opening-day starter at right guard, is also on IR, as is opening-day left guard Isaac Seumalo.

Sua Opeta would presumably start if Herbig is unable to go Sunday. Opeta has started four games - two last year, two this year - all at left guard. Opeta and Jack Anderson started at left guard and right guard in the meaningless season finale against the Cowboys. Opeta has played 27 career snaps at right guard.

Since the start of last year, the Eagles have used eight different starting right guards: Herbig (12 games), Driscoll (8 games), Matt Pryor (6 games), Brooks (2 games), Jason Peters (2 games), Landon Dickerson (1 game), Jamon Brown (1 game) and Armstrong (1 game).

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