Rasul Douglas

Eagles hoping to get one of their corners back next week

Eagles hoping to get one of their corners back next week

The Eagles have been losing cornerbacks at an alarming rate.

Next week, if all goes well, they’ll actually get one back.

Jalen Mills, who hasn’t played in almost a year because of a mystery foot injury, is eligible to come off the in-season PUP list on Monday. 

It’s tough not being out there," he said Thursday. "Not being able to at least play with my guys, it’s always hard.

Mills will meet with his doctor early in the week and if he’s cleared, he’ll practice when the Eagles’ work week begins on Wednesday. If that goes well, he could play against the Cowboys a week from Sunday in Arlington, Texas.

They need him.

For sure, I’m just going to be excited,” Mills said. “Adrenaline’s probably going to be going through the roof. Go out there and have a lot of energy and create some.

The Eagles for a second straight year have been decimated at cornerback.

They currently have four corners on the shelf, including Mills and Ronald Darby (hamstring), the Super Bowl starters, along with Cre’Von LeBlanc (knee) and Avonte Maddox (concussion, neck)

And that doesn’t even include Sidney Jones, who hasn’t played since early in the Packers game because of a hamstring injury but is expected back Sunday in Minnesota.

The Eagles beat the Jets on Sunday with three cornerbacks in uniform who weren’t on the team two weeks earlier - Craig James, Orlando Scandrick and Ryan Lewis.

They've used 12 cornerbacks in 23 games since last year began, and Rasul Douglas is the only one who has played in every game.

LeBlanc is on Injured Reserve and eligible to return after the Bills game in two weeks. Darby and Maddox are both on the 53-man roster right now but seem to be a ways away.

Mills, the Eagles’ 7th-round pick in 2016, became a full-time starter in 2017 and started the first eight games of 2018, but his foot began bothering him at some point toward the middle of the season, and he hasn’t played sine the Eagles-Jaguars game in London last Oct. 28.

Mills has declined to exactly what the injury was, but it does seem like it’s finally behind him.

It was something serious,” he said. “It’s a long (healing) injury. Just have to take your time with it. Training staff did a great job with me as far as my recovery and rehab and making sure I’m running good, I’m cutting, I’m planting the way I could before the injury.

It’s too early to get a sense of where the Eagles will put everybody once Mills does return to action.

Most likely Mills will start with limited reps, perhaps in the red zone, where he’s most effective.

However it lines up, the Eagles will certainly be stronger defensively with Mills than without him.

(The Cowboys has) always been the plan,” Mills said. “But it’s really all about the doctor and what he says. He’ll tell me what I can and can’t do, just sticking to the plan. They’ve had a great plan for me and I feel great now. Whatever he says I can and can’t do I’ll just follow.

How challenging has it been to go nearly a year without playing football?

As a true competitor, you want to be out there regardless of the situation,” he said. “Of course I want to be out there. … I’ve dealt with adversity before, not just the football aspect but just my life in general, so as far as that goes just keeping a strong mind and strong head. I’ve got great teammates and great coaches (and) they keep me into it.

Here are the Eagles’ starting cornerback combinations since last season began:

6 games – Darby / Mills
3 games – Maddox / Douglas / LeBlanc
2 games – Darby / Douglas / Maddox
2 games – Jones / Douglas / LeBlanc
2 games – Maddox / Douglas
2 games – Darby / Jones / Maddox
1 game – Darby / Mills / Dexter McDougle
1 game - Darby / Mills / Jones
1 game – Jones / Douglas / Maddox
1 game – Chandon Sullivan / Davonte Bausby
1 game – Douglas / Jones 
1 game – Douglas / Craig James

So they’ve used 12 starting combinations in 23 games since opening day last year.

Barring more injuries or setbacks, that number will increase soon. And that's good news for the Eagles' defense.

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Decimated by injuries at corner, Eagles bring back veteran CB Orlando Scandrick

Decimated by injuries at corner, Eagles bring back veteran CB Orlando Scandrick

With the Eagles decimated by injuries at corner, they’ll turn to a familiar face.

The team has brought back veteran corner Orlando Scandrick. In a corresponding move, the Eagles released LB and special teamer L.J. Fort.

Scandrick spent the preseason with the Eagles and was among their final cuts. In Scandrick, they get a veteran of 10 years and someone who already has knowledge of their defensive playbook. The long-time Cowboy will get extra time to get reacclimated to the Eagles’ scheme with the break after playing a Thursday night game.

For the second straight season the Eagles are dealing with a rash of injuries at cornerback. After Ronald Darby injured his hamstring against the Lions, Sidney Jones tweaked his in the first quarter against the Packers Thursday. Avonte Maddox suffered a scary injury late in the fourth quarter when he was hit by teammate Andrew Sendejo. Maddox was carted off the field, but the team put out a statement Friday with positive news.

That left only Rasul Douglas and Craig James — who went from the practice squad to hero in short order — healthy enough to finish the game.

The team also has Jalen Mills on the PUP and Cre’Von LeBlanc on IR. Mills will be eligible to return after Week 6.

Scandrick has played in 140 NFL games with 76 starts. He has nine interceptions, 11½ sacks and 27 tackles for loss in 10 years with the Cowboys and one season with the Chiefs.

Fort was signed this offseason after spending the last four seasons with the Steelers. He didn't play any defensive snaps this season but was third on the Eagles in special teams snaps. By releasing him now, the Eagles will recoup a compensatory draft pick. 

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It’s time to really see if Eagles' Rasul Douglas, Sidney Jones, Avonte Maddox can play

It’s time to really see if Eagles' Rasul Douglas, Sidney Jones, Avonte Maddox can play

APPLETON, Wis. — No more rotation. No more excuses. 

When the Eagles line up against the Packers on Thursday night at Lambeau, they will be starting the same young trio of cornerbacks we watched all summer at training camp. 

Ronald Darby (hamstring) is expected to be out “for a little while” and Jalen Mills is still a few weeks from a possible return off the PUP. That means Rasul Douglas, Sidney Jones and Avonte Maddox are up … full-time. 

“We’re all on the same page,” Douglas said, “we all see things the same way.”

Because Mills has been on the PUP and because Darby was slow getting back from his torn ACL from last year, Douglas, Jones and Maddox were the three starters for the entire spring and most of the summer. And, for the most part, they performed really well. In fact, they performed well enough this summer to prompt me to wonder if they wouldn’t be the best combo possible. Seeing Darby play the first three games didn’t change that thought. 

During the first three games of the season, Jim Schwartz has been using a rotation at his cornerback spots. While Maddox has held down the nickel job, the other three have rotated outside. While Darby is still just 25, he’s the most experienced of the group. 

Now, the younger three will have to take the reins and they’ll have to start against a Hall of Fame quarterback in Aaron Rodgers tonight. 

“Those guys have built up a lot of good snaps and have been there for us and have played consistent ball for us and have made some plays,” Schwartz said. “But what they've done in the past isn't going to make any difference now.” 

Now in his third year, this expanded role is nothing new for Douglas. In each of his first two seasons, he has been thrust into a starting job after Darby suffered an injury. In 2017, Darby dislocated his ankle, so Douglas started five games until Darby could return. And last year, he took over the starting job for good (nine starts including playoffs) after Darby tore his ACL.  

Douglas is just 24. 

Jones and Maddox are both just 23. 

While there are plenty of valid questions about this secondary, over the next few weeks we might get a chance to see how these guys might fit into the long-term plan at the position. 

The Eagles might actually be able to find some stability from knowing who their three starters are going into a game. The rotation seemed disjointed and Darby had been struggling. 

I asked Malcolm Jenkins if they could use their recall of this starting group from training camp and he said they didn’t need to. 

“Our defense is not about to change,” Jenkins said. “I don’t care if you went out there and played corner.” 

That probably wouldn’t end well. Luckily for the Eagles, I’ll be in the press box tonight at Lambeau. 

We’ll see how those young corners do.

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