Jim Schwartz isn’t worried.
But with less than five weeks to go before Week 1 of the 2019 season, it’s certainly worth noting that several key members of the Eagles’ defense aren’t completely healthy. And now you can add Kamu Grugier-Hill and his Grade 3 MCL sprain to the growing list that already included Fletcher Cox, Derek Barnett, Nigel Bradham, Rodney McLeod, Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby and Cre’Von LeBlanc.
At what point does defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz worry about these injuries affecting the start of the season?
I don't know,” Schwartz said. “I'll let you know when it comes. It's not now. We're taking a patient approach. Just about all those guys are veteran players that have really proved their worth in the NFL. Just a matter of getting those guys healthy and enough reps that they knock the rust off. They're not new to the system. They're not new to the NFL. They're all coming from a position of experience.
Doug Pederson said something similar. He noted that a lot of these injured guys are veterans, so there’s “no real concern over them missing time right now,” because they’ve been in the system for a long time. Fair enough.
But just last season, we all thought Brandon Graham was going to be fine for the start of the 2018 season after missing time with his ankle injury. He played in the opener, but he wasn’t himself at the beginning of the season. Sometimes injuries linger. And sometimes the effects of missing practice and losing conditioning time linger, too.
In a way, I agree with Schwartz. It’s not time to hit the panic button. We still have over a month. But it’s something to keep an eye on. We expect this Eagles’ offense to be explosive in 2019, but the defense needs to at least pull its weight. If these injuries aren’t cleared up, we might see a situation where the offense needs to carry the team early in the 2019 season.
Among the injured players, McLeod appears to be the furthest along. He’s been participating in 11-on-11 drills and looks good. The only thing he hasn’t done so far are live tackling drills, but that will come eventually. Barring a setback, I expect him to be full-go for Week 1.
Cox (foot) and Bradham (toe) both had surgery for injuries they suffered in the Saints game. Barnett (shoulder) had surgery for a torn rotator cuff during last season and has been working his way back. These three Eagles are very important to the team’s success.
And while Ronald Darby (ACL) has been progressing, Jalen Mills (foot) is still on the Active/PUP. And Cre’Von LeBlanc suffered a Lisfranc sprain and is out for a little while.
The Eagles definitely have a bunch of injuries on that side of the ball. It might not be time to panic yet … but a little worry is warranted.
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