It was as silent as Lincoln Financial Field got all night.
Well, aside from the deep collective inhale from nearly 70,000 fans who couldn’t help but hold their breath. With just under seven minutes to go in the second quarter of Thursday night’s preseason game, Sidney Jones tried to pop up to his feet after taking on some friendly fire, stood for a moment, and then took a knee.
“I’m good. I knew I was good,” Jones said by his locker after the game. “I know I scared everybody. A teammate rolled up on me, but I knew I was fine.”
Jones said he just suffered a lower left ankle sprain when Nate Gerry collided with him. But that’s the same leg that has Jones' surgically repaired Achilles tendon, so it was natural for everyone to gasp at the sign of him grabbing that area.
Jones, 22, was eventually able to walk to the sideline on his own power before getting checked out on the trainer’s table. He got his ankle re-taped and tested it out by jogging on the sideline. He didn’t get back in the game, but Jones said that was simply the plan.
As he has been at training camp all summer, Jones was the Eagles’ first-string nickel cornerback for the preseason opener, but that’s the position he then played with the second team too. Way back in the spring, the Eagles began playing Jones at the NCB, so he’s had a while to become familiar with it. But he admitted from the beginning of training camp to now, there’s “a pretty big difference.”
If nothing else, all this time playing inside can only make him a more well-rounded and more versatile player.
Jones, the 43rd overall pick last year, would have been a first-rounder had it not been for that Achilles tear at his pro day. So now that he’s completely healed, there are understandably high expectations for Jones in Year 2.
He didn’t get tested much against the Steelers. But he did make a special teams tackle to start the game on the opening kickoff and he had three combined tackles on defense. He didn’t have to make any plays in the air, but he looked willing to help on the ground.
“I thought while he was in there, he made some plays,” head coach Doug Pederson said. “He was doing a really nice job.”
Jones did draw a penalty thanks to the new helmet-tackling rule in the second quarter shortly before his injury (see breakdown). Rasul Douglas was holding up Damoun Patterson, when Jones came through with a lowered helmet that drew a flag.
Instead of a fourth down, the Steelers took a 15-yard penalty and went on to score a touchdown on the drive.
Jones said there wasn’t much clarity for him on the rule, but he isn’t worried about it. He’s going to keep playing football the way he has his whole career.
“My head is connected to my shoulders, so it’s hard,” Jones said.
Oh, like the song.
“Yeah,” Jones said with a smirk. “Heads, shoulders, knees and toes.”
Knees and toes.
And an ankle sprain. That doesn’t seem all that serious. Exhale.