Hassan Ridgeway

Another Eagles defensive tackle, Hassan Ridgeway, headed for Injured Reserve

AP Images/Michael Ainsworth

Another Eagles defensive tackle, Hassan Ridgeway, headed for Injured Reserve

The Eagles placed defensive tackle Hassan Ridgeway on Injured Reserve Wednesday with an ankle injury.

Ridgeway becomes the 18th player that began the season on the Eagles’ 53-man roster who will miss at least one game with an injury.

The Eagles began the season loaded at defensive tackle with Fletcher Cox, Malik Jackson, Tim Jernigan and Ridgeway.

But Jackson was lost for the season with a foot injury suffered on opening day,  Jernigan is on the 53 but hasn’t played since breaking his foot a week later in Atlanta and now Ridgeway is out presumably for the rest of the season. 

Ridgeway suffered the injury in the Eagles’ loss to the Cowboys on Sunday.

Ridgeway, a fourth-round pick of the Colts in 2016, played 252 snaps in the Eagles’ first seven games, fourth-most on the defensive line. He started the last five games.

With Jackson, Jernigan and Ridgeway all out and Akeem Spence released on Tuesday, the Eagles' defensive tackle depth chart now shows Cox and two players who’ve never played an NFL snap and just joined the team this week at defensive tackle: Anthony Rush, signed off the Raiders’ practice squad, and Albert Huggins, signed off the Texans’ practice squad. Rush was at least with the Eagles from May 9 through July 27.

The Eagles also have Bruce Hector on the practice squad. Hector played 82 snaps on defense for the Eagles last year in between two stints on the practice squad and could be promoted to the 53 to take Ridgway's roster spot. He would become the second-most experienced defensive tackle on the roster.

Ridgeway joins Joe Ostman, Jordan Mailata, Cre’Von LeBlanc, Corey Clement and Jackson on the Eagles’ Injured Reserve list. They can activate two players eight weeks after they were placed on IR, and LeBlanc is a candidate after the Bills game on Sunday.

In seven games, Ridgeway was credited with 10 tackles, six tackles for loss, two sacks and four quarterback hits. He’s tied with Orlando Scandrick for third on the team in sacks and second to Brandon Graham in tackles for loss.

Ridgeway is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent after this season.

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After injuries to Malik Jackson and Tim Jernigan, plenty of reason to be concerned about Eagles’ DT spot

After injuries to Malik Jackson and Tim Jernigan, plenty of reason to be concerned about Eagles’ DT spot

A couple weeks ago, Hassan Ridgeway was just a nice rotational depth piece and Akeem Spence was at home on his couch. 

A lot changed very quickly. 

Now, the Eagles need both defensive tackles to be real contributors for at least the next month, possibly longer. 

“It’s a whirlwind, but that’s the NFL,” Ridgeway said. “You never know what’s going to happen. People can drop, people can get injured. You just never think it’s going to happen like that.” 

The Eagles came into the 2019 season with tremendous depth at the defensive tackle position. That unit already had All-Pro Fletcher Cox, added former Pro Bowler Malik Jackson in the offseason, brought back a healthy Tim Jernigan and then added Ridgeway in a draft-day trade. It was a strong group. Strong enough that they even waived Treyvon Hester at final cuts. 

It isn’t anymore. 

For as much as we’ve talked about receiver depth this week — and for good reason — the defensive tackle position is a serious concern as well. 

Jackson suffered a Lisfranc injury in the opener and is done for the year. Jernigan broke his foot on Sunday and is out at least a month. Two big injuries in two weeks. 

“It’s hard to see them go down like that,” Ridgeway said. 

That means that in the last couple of weeks, Ridgeway went from being a depth piece to a likely starter and Spence went from his couch to being the first guy off the bench. 

“I was sitting at home,” said Spence, who was without a team in Week 1. “That was my first Sunday ever being at home, just watching the opening week. And, bang, it’s back to it.”

And to top it off, Cox hasn’t looked like his usual dominant self as he comes back from offseason foot surgery.  

Is Doug Pederson concerned? 

“Obviously it's early in the year, and if you go in with three tackles, you have to maybe shift some guys around,” Pederson said. “But we've done this before with our end positions, BG [DE Brandon Graham] can obviously come down inside and do some things in there. We keep those guys as fresh as we can with a rotating system, and we go play. We can’t really worry about that too much. We just have to go play.”

Maybe Pederson isn’t concerned. But maybe he should be. 

The real problem for the Eagles is that they were relying on the strength of their interior pass rush this season. They had great depth on the edge last year, but lost Chris Long to retirement and traded Michael Bennett. Despite that, they felt good about their defensive line, especially after the addition of Jackson, a skilled interior rusher who would alleviate the need to rush defensive ends from the defensive tackle spots. Then he got hurt. 

And even after Jackson went down in Week 1, the Eagles probably felt lucky that Jernigan was healthy, because he was about as good a backup as they have at any position. Then he got hurt. 

The one bright spot here is that Ridgeway is in his fourth NFL season and Spence is in his seventh, so at least the Eagles aren’t relying on completely unproven rookies. And, even though they initially wanted to avoid it, they do have defensive ends who can play defensive tackle.  

Despite all that, a key position of strength has turned into a question mark pretty quickly this season. We’ll see soon enough how the Eagles handle it. 

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Stories of Eagles’ jersey number changes after final cuts

Stories of Eagles’ jersey number changes after final cuts

When NFL rosters are at 90 players, jersey numbers get a little tricky. 

The Eagles this past summer were no exception. They had several numbers owned by offensive and defensive players. They had some veterans come late and get paired with odd digits and a lot of times, these things don’t get sorted out until the 90-man roster is pared down to 53. 

As silly as it sounds, most players care about their jersey numbers, at least to varying degrees. A few years ago, when Alshon Jeffery signed here, Nelson Agholor already had No. 17. Jeffery said he didn’t care about his old number. But once he got it back, he showed up in the locker room with a big, blingy No. 17 necklace. I think he cared. 

This year, five Eagles on the initial 53-man roster had their numbers changed after final cuts. Here are those stories: 

Johnathan Cyprien (41—>37) 

When Cyprien signed this summer, the only number he had ever worn in the NFL (No. 37) was already taken by safety Tre Sullivan. Cyprien had that number for his four seasons in Jacksonville and two seasons in Tennessee. So he was stuck with 41 for a while. 

“I made 41 look good. It’s just me,” he joked. “Not too many people can make 37 look good, but I still be looking so fire with it. I think it’s just me.”

But the No. 37 does have some meaning for him. In fact, it dates back to before he got to the NFL, when he was just a prospect coming out of Florida International.  

“The only reason I wear 37, really, I went to the Senior Bowl (in 2013),” he said. “They’re supposed to give you your college number but they didn’t give me my college number. They gave me 37. I wore 7 in college. So they gave me 37; I felt like they tried me. By the time I went to the Senior Bowl, I got MVP of the Senior Bowl (Outstanding Performance Defensive Back). I got to Jacksonville, they said, ‘Alright, we got 33, we got 26 and we got 37.’ So I thought it was meant to be, so I got 37.”

If you’re wondering, No. 7 on the North Team defense that year went to fellow safety T.J. McDonald from USC. McDonald was drafted a round after Cyprien, in the third, and has played and started 75 games in the NFL. 

Hassan Ridgeway (64—>98) 

The Eagles traded for Ridgeway on Day 3 of the draft and all summer, he was one of those split numbers. He wore 64 on defense and undrafted rookie center Keegan Render wore 64 on offense. 

“I’m not no O-lineman,” Ridgeway said, “so I had to get out of that.”

During training camp, 98 belonged to Bruce Hector, who was traded to Arizona and is now back on the Eagles’ practice squad wearing No. 90. For Ridgeway, 98 is a return to his college number at Texas. 

“It was given to me by my (college) D-line coach,” Ridgeway said. “It was my second number. I had 81 at first. He said you gotta have a real D-lineman number. It’s funny I got the same one here.” 

Ridgeway wasn’t able to wear 98 when he got to Indianapolis as a rookie in 2016. That number belonged to Robert Mathis in his final NFL season. The Colts haven’t retired his number yet, but no one else has worn it since their all-time sack leader. Ridgeway wore 91 in Indy; that number is obviously taken by Fletcher Cox here. 

Zach Brown (51—>52) 

The veteran linebacker, in his first season with the Eagles, didn’t make a drastic number change. He said he wasn’t feeling 51 and called it an “ugly number.” 

Previously, Brown has worn 55 (Titans) and 53 (Bills, Redskins). 

So why 52? 

“I can’t get 53 or 58 or 57, they’re all taken,” Brown said. “And I ain’t paying for a number. Fifty-five is really my number, but BG got it, so him and Nigel isn’t coming up out of it. So I’ll wear 52.”

Shareef Miller (76—>51) 

One man’s trash is another man’s treasure. Once Brown vacated No. 51, it was open and Miller took it. It got him much closer to what he wore in college: 48. 

And Miller’s favorite pass rushers (Von Miller and Khalil Mack) are in the 50s. He thought it suited him better than 76. 

“I didn’t even know Zach was changing, but I knew after the cuts went down, they called me and asked me if I wanted to change it,” Miller said. “They told me the numbers (that were available) and I took it.”  

Rudy Ford (46—>36)

The Eagles traded for Ford late in training camp, so when he got here there weren’t many options. And the 46 was open after the team released UDFA Jay Liggins. Ford was happy with anything in the 20s or 30s. 

In Arizona, where he spent the last two years and the first two of his career, Ford wore No. 30. That number is owned by Corey Clement here. 

“I was just excited to come to a place where I was excited to show my talents,” Ford said. “It wasn’t about the number. I’m sure somebody wore 46 before I got here. If I was to wear it, I would have put it to great use. Everybody would have known about 46, definitely.”

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