Eagles

Not time to panic yet, but Eagles’ defensive injuries are worrisome

Not time to panic yet, but Eagles’ defensive injuries are worrisome

Jim Schwartz isn’t worried. 

Yet. 

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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Doug Pederson hoping to mix new face Jay Ajayi into Eagles' running attack

Doug Pederson hoping to mix new face Jay Ajayi into Eagles' running attack

Doug Pederson said he hopes to get recently re-acquired running back Jay Ajayi more involved in the offense as the Eagles head into the stretch run.

Ajayi has eight carries for 25 yards and a 3.1 average in two games since returning to the Eagles following a year layoff. 

A Pro Bowler in 2016 with the Dolphins and a stud down the stretch during the Super Bowl season, Ajayi suffered a torn ACL in Week 5 last year and didn’t play from Oct. 7, 2018, until Nov. 24, 2019, when he made his 2019 debut against the Seahawks.

Ajayi didn't have OTAs or a training camp and didn't even practice until the Wednesday before the Seattle game. 

It's a process with him, but we understand who he is and the injury that he's coming off of, so we're careful with that,” Pederson said. “But at the same time, he's a bigger, powerful guy that we can use in spots.

With Jordan Howard missing the last three games with nerve damage in his shoulder, rookie Miles Sanders has essentially been the entire running attack. But the Eagles are so hesitant to increase his workload significantly that it’s created a situation in which the Eagles just haven’t run the ball very much during their three-game losing streak because they haven’t had a viable second option.

During these last three games, Sanders has 40 carries, Ajayi eight and Boston Scott seven.

This is the first time the Eagles have leaned this heavily on one back in a three-game stretch since 2012. 

During a late-season three-game stretch in which LeSean McCoy was hurt, Bryce Brown got 52 carries and Dion Lewis had four.

The Eagles ran 45 percent of the time in the nine games Howard played and 31 percent since he got hurt. They’re 0-3 without him.

Miles has done a great job,” Pederson said Saturday. “I’d love to get Jay a few more touches and get Boston in the mix so we're not obviously wearing Miles down here this last month of the season.

The current stretch is the first in franchise history that the Eagles have thrown at least 40 times and run the ball 23 or fewer times in three straight games.

Howard hasn’t played since before the bye week and is out for the Eagles’ game Monday night against the Giants. 

Pederson said earlier in the week he doesn’t expect this to be a season-ending injury, but will Howard be able to pick up where he left off after such a long layoff even if he does return?

The Eagles began the season with Howard, Sanders, Corey Clement and Darren Sproles in what looked to be a deep running back rotation. 

Sanders is the only one of that group left. Can Ajayi make a difference after such a long layoff? Sounds like Pederson wants to find out.

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Eagles Injury Update: Latest on Derek Barnett, Nelson Agholor, Jordan Howard

Eagles Injury Update: Latest on Derek Barnett, Nelson Agholor, Jordan Howard

Updated: 3:39 p.m.

Derek Barnett and Nelson Agholor will likely be game-time decisions for Monday Night Football, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said on Saturday morning. 

Barnett (ankle) and Agholor (knee) both missed all three days of practice this week and are listed as questionable.

Meanwhile, linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill is still in the NFL’s concussion protocol. He was just placed in protocol on Thursday and won't play Monday night. 

And Jordan Howard (shoulder) has still not been cleared for contact; he can’t play until he is and that’s not happening before Monday. He's officially questionable. 

Lane Johnson also missed practice on Friday and Saturday for a non-injury reason but is expected to play on Monday. 

If Agholor is unable to play, the Eagles would be left with just three healthy receivers on the roster: Alshon Jeffery, JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Greg Ward. 

“We’re very comfortable, obviously, with the guys we have,” Pederson said. “So if it’s three, it’s three. We brought up [Josh Perkins] a week ago to help us there, so it’s an addition there. We go and we go play. We’ll discuss those over the next couple of days leading up to the game. If we have to make a decision we will. We feel good with the guys we have in that receiver role.” 

If the Eagles do decide to make a roster move, they have three wide receivers on their practice squad: Robert Davis, Marcus Green and Marken Michel. 

While Agholor had his knee injury before last week’s game, Barnett got hurt during the loss in Miami, but was still able to play through the injury and play 50 snaps. Barnett has played the third-most defensive snaps on the team this year, so losing him for this game wouldn’t be insignificant. 

If Barnett can’t play, expect Josh Sweat and Vinny Curry to get more reps. After that, Genard Avery, Daeshon Hall and even Shareef Miller could see a few snaps. 

For the Giants: 

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