Eagles

Rasul Douglas's move to safety may be accelerated by Eagles

Rasul Douglas's move to safety may be accelerated by Eagles

Safety help could be coming from someone who’s not a safety.

Veteran safety Corey Graham, who’ll move into the Eagles’ starting lineup in place of injured Rodney McLeod, identified second-year cornerback Rasul Douglas as a candidate for the third safety spot or sixth D-back spot that’s now open.

Douglas, a third-round pick last year, has played only six snaps on defense this year, although on one of them he made a crucial interception in the red zone in the opening-day win over the Falcons.

But he definitely has a hybrid skill set. He’s tough, physical, a sure tackler, stands 6-foot-2. With the depth the Eagles have at corner, at some point, he’ll be likely a safety.

Whether that’s as early as Sunday in Nashville remains to be seen. But the Eagles’ options are limited when it comes to their third safety or their safety in Big Dime, which is three corners and three safeties.

The Eagles acquired safety Deiondre’ Hall earlier this month, but he was suspended the first week of the regular season and hasn’t played a snap on defense the last two games.

Tre Sullivan played in the season opener, was released the next day, then re-signed to the practice squad the following week. He’s likely to get a promotion to the 53 when McLeod officially goes on IR. 

McLeod, a solid starter here since 2016, is out for the year after tearing his MCL in the win over the Colts Sunday.

Graham rejoined the Eagles on Aug. 5 after serving as the third safety last year. He’s in his 12th NFL season and at 33, he’s the fourth-oldest safety in the NFL. He’s played in 174 games, second-most on the roster behind Jason Peters (179).

“Everybody’s ready to roll,” Graham said. “Next guy up, pretty much doesn’t matter who it is. Everybody knows their job and knows what they’re supposed to do. So it’s not really a big drop-off because of that. When you have guys that are ready to roll, you’ll be all right.

“We’re confident in all our guys. So no matter who it is — me, Rasul, Deiondre’ — it doesn’t make a difference. Everybody knows what they’re doing.”

Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz loves cornerbacks with safety skills and safeties with cornerback skills, and this is why. He wants interchangeable parts who can cover and tackle, and that’s really what the third safety is.

Depending on what sub-package the Eagles are in, Graham said rookie Avonte Maddox could also be in the mix.

“These are smart guys, to be honest with you,” Graham said. “They’re smart. They’re picking it up. The way we do it in our defensive backs room, we learn all the positions from the beginning anyway, so either one of those guys can get in and play it.

“You never know. It could be Hall, could be anyone. Tre could get moved up. I don’t know. But when we find out we’ll adjust and we’ll be ready to roll."

As for Graham, he averaged 26 snaps per game last year during the regular season, a figure that rose to 41 in the playoffs.

Ultimately, every defensive back who’s active Sunday for the Eagles’ game against the Titans will probably have a role in some package. 

“It won’t be one guy,” Graham said after practice Thursday. “It won’t be one guy who does it. I don’t know exactly how we’re going to account for it if Rod is not here, but we’ll figure it out.

“I’m pretty sure my job isn’t going to change dramatically. In some packages, I’ll still be doing the same thing. It’s just that someone else is going to have to come in and help out.”

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Eagles Injury Update: Jalen Mills will start Sunday, but Eagles missing other key players

Eagles Injury Update: Jalen Mills will start Sunday, but Eagles missing other key players

The Eagles are getting at least one key starter back for Sunday Night Football against Dallas, but will be missing several others. 

Jalen Mills (foot) will be officially activated off the PUP list and said he will start against the Cowboys. 

I asked Mills what it meant to him to be named a starter after nearly a year off the field. 

“I had to make plays at practice, you know what I’m saying?” Mills answered. “It wasn’t nothing given. At the end of the day, you’ve got to show the coaching staff and you also gotta show the other 10 guys on the field that I’m capable of going out there and making plays.” 

It’s been nearly a year since his last game action (Oct. 28, 2018), but Mills said he feels like he’s in good enough condition to play the entire game if he needed to. But that probably won’t happen. Expect to see the Eagles rotate some. 

“It’s good,” Mills said about his conditioning. “Did a great job with Josh (Hingst), our strength coach as far as these six weeks on PUP on the side field, as far as me running and getting my heart and my lungs strong. And then football today and the last two days, running all over the field. If the ball’s getting thrown the other day, chasing it down.” 

Mills was not required to be on the injury report all week because he hasn’t been on the active roster. 

Here’s the final injury report of the week: 

Out: Nigel Bradham (ankle), DeSean Jackson (abdomen), Tim Jernigan (foot), Avonte Maddox (concussion, neck), Jason Peters (knee) , Darren Sproles (quad)  

Questionable: Ronald Darby (hamstring) 

No real surprises there. All the players ruled out haven’t practiced all week. 

Darby hasn’t played since he suffered his hamstring injury against Detroit. Doug Pederson said on Friday morning that he still viewed Mills and Darby as starters. So if Darby is able to play, expect him to start opposite Mills. 

Without Peters, rookie first-round pick Andre Dillard will make his first-career start at left tackle. He’ll see a lot of Robert Quinn and maybe a little of DeMarcus Lawrence. 

Jackson has been doing some work on a side field this week, but didn’t practice. He hasn’t played since early in the Atlanta game in Week 2. This will be his fifth consecutive game missed. On Friday morning, Pederson was asked if it’s even possible for Jackson to get to 100 percent this season. 

“Nobody is ever 100 percent,” Pederson said. “Again, with the type of injury that he has, and being a track guy, a speed guy, it affects you. It makes a difference. Is he going to be 100% when he comes back? Probably not. Is he going to feel better? Yeah, he'll feel better and be able to put it behind him and focus on football.”

Bradham was seen on Friday walking through the locker room, still with a noticeable limp. Without him, expect Kamu Grugier-Hill, Nate Gerry and T.J. Edwards to be the starters, with the first two playing on nickel downs. 

Sproles is out again, but is at least healing. For the first time (at least that reporters have seen) since his injury, he was working on a side field Friday. 



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Some thoughts on the latest anonymously sourced report about Eagles’ offense

 

DeMarcus Lawrence says Doug Pederson should ‘shut his ass up’

DeMarcus Lawrence says Doug Pederson should ‘shut his ass up’

Earlier this week, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson on Monday morning said the Eagles were going to go down to Dallas and win on Sunday night.

Pederson claimed it wasn’t a guarantee; it was just showing confidence in his team. 

And then we went most of the week without hearing a ton about it, at least nothing incendiary, from any other players or coaches … until Friday. 

I don’t think it was ever in question that Pederson was going to stay on the sideline for this game. Not much use for a 51-year-old backup quarterback coming off offseason ankle surgery. 

Anyway, with two 3-3 division rivals battling on Sunday Night Football, neither squad probably needed a ton of extra motivation. But here it is. 

For the Cowboys, it’ll be Pederson’s declaration that the Eagles are going to win. 

For the Eagles, it’ll be Lawrence saying their head coach should “shut his ass up.” Don’t talk to dad like that. 

Some of this stuff can be silly, but I’ll take anything that throws gasoline on the rivalry fire. And this might just do it. It’s just more fun when these two teams hate each other. 

While Lawrence is a very good player and has been to two straight Pro Bowls, it is worth noting that Lane Johnson has pretty much shut him down in the past. Lawrence has played the Eagles nine times in his career and doesn’t have a sack.

 

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