Sidney Jones was a full participant in Thursday’s practice and the second-year cornerback said he will return to action Sunday after missing three games with a hamstring injury.
That’s good news for the Eagles as they gear up to face the NFL’s No. 1 scoring offense, led by future Hall of Famer Drew Brees.
It’ll also give the Eagles a glimpse into their future.
Because without Ronald Darby (torn ACL) and Jalen Mills (foot), we’re very likely going to see Jones start at outside corner Sunday afternoon. In the first six games of the season, Jones was the team’s nickel corner. But, eventually, the outside is where he’s projected to play long-term. The Eagles are hoping he’ll not only become an outside corner but eventually a star in this league. That’s certainly not out of the question.
After all, the Eagles used a second-round pick on Jones last season despite his torn Achilles because they thought they were getting a first-round pick at a discount. This Sunday, they might start seeing the return on that investment.
“It’s a big opportunity for me,” Jones said. “Obviously, that’s where I was in college. Nickel, I played there and got some experience in there. If I were to ever play inside again, I’m able to do it. Outside, I can do it. It’s just a great opportunity to be able to do both now.”
Jones, still just 22, said there’s been a rotation inside and outside during practice this week and the Eagles are bringing him back slowly. Really, he’s just happy to be back.
After missing most of his rookie season, Jones assumed a big role with the Eagles’ defense this season as the nickel CB. And he felt like he was starting to get into a pretty good rhythm before he suffered his “frustrating” hamstring injury after just eight plays in the Giants game.
“It’s heartbreaking, but I’m back,” Jones said. “Looking forward to everything going forward now.”
Obviously, this week presents a tough test. Aside from Brees, Jones will have to deal with Michael Thomas, who has quickly blossomed into one of the best wide receivers in the NFL and already has 78 catches through nine games.
But if Jones is what the Eagles hope he’ll be, he’s going to be their answer to top-flight receivers for years to come. They took a chance on drafting a kid with an Achilles tear in the second round last year because they thought the chance of his returning to form — he was in play for their first-round pick at No. 14 if he didn’t get hurt — was worth the gamble.
“Expectations are the expectations,” Jones said. “You go out there every day, you fight. You fight to prove yourself, no matter what the expectations are. Top of the roster, bottom of the roster. You’re just expected to compete every day and go out there and fight no matter what. No matter what’s your status.”
To this point, we have seen just flashes of Jones’ ability. I think he has a really legitimate chance to be a special player. Maybe we’ll get a glimpse of that Sunday.
Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.