When the Eagles began their mandatory minicamp Tuesday, there was a notable absence.
Well, not an absence, but Sidney Jones wasn’t participating. The Eagles’ second-year cornerback, who is facing high expectations, has been dealing with lower-body soreness, according to head coach Doug Pederson Wednesday. He missed the end of OTAs and is now missing minicamp time.
The important part is that Pederson said this soreness is unrelated to Jones’ surgically-repaired Achilles tendon that dropped him out of the first round and into the Eagles’ lap at No. 43 in last year’s draft.
“We’re taking precautions,” Pederson said. “Again, this is not the time we’re going to push anybody. Not going to put anybody out there that’s nicked up, banged up. Want to make sure everybody is ready to go for training camp.”
So what does this missed time mean for Jones?
Well, it’s not good news. There are certainly high expectations for the very talented and young corner. Before this “soreness,” Jones was getting some reps as the team’s nickel corner. Plenty of other guys have worked with the first team there too, including De’Vante Bausby, Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby. It’s one of the position battles that’s going to be important to watch in the summer. That position wasn’t decided last year until the Birds traded for Darby and slid Patrick Robinson into the slot, where he thrived enough to get a contract in New Orleans.
Jones, 22, would be an obvious choice to win that job this year. If nothing else, it would make sense for him to at least see the field in the nickel package in some capacity. If that is outside, it could mean sliding Mills inside on passing downs.
Either way, Jones is supremely talented, a guy the Eagles originally targeted with their first-round pick a year ago. So it would be obvious that they’d want to get him on the field over a relatively unknown player like Bausby. But Bausby isn’t making this easy.
Bausby, 25, was signed to the Eagles’ practice squad last September. At the time, the theory was that he was a spy. He had previously spent time with the Chiefs and the Eagles were about to play them. But it’s clear now that the Eagles actually like Bausby. This spring, Bausby has been great and is separating himself in the slot.
Is that enough to eventually keep Jones off the field? Probably not. But it can’t help to have him on the sideline.