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October 06, 2017

Eagles-Cardinals injury report, with analysis

The Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals released their official injury reports for Sunday's game at the Linc. The Eagles will be without star DT Fletcher Cox, and will likely be missing RB Wendell Smallwood as well. The Cardinals, however, have far more serious injuries to deal with.

Here's the Friday injury report, with analysis:



• DT Fletcher Cox (calf): The Eagles' defensive line dominated in the first two weeks of the season, though they were neutralized by an extremely fast passing attacks against the Giants, and to a lesser degree, the Chargers. Cox has looked dominant at times this season, so his absence is a big relief for the Cardinals' banged-up offensive line.

• CB Ronald Darby (ankle): After suffering what looked like a gruesome ankle injury against the Redskins Week 1, the Eagles are fortunate that Darby will only miss 4-6 weeks. Darby is easily the Eagles' best corner, as his absence could be felt against the track team the Cardinals line up at wide receiver on the outside.


RB Wendell Smallwood: With Sproles out for the season, Smallwood became by far the best receiving option in the Eagles’ backfield. LeGarrette Blount, Corey Clement, and Kenjon Barner simply aren't good at catching the football. I also believe that Smallwood is the Eagles’ most explosive runner, in terms of speed getting through the hole, and he has improved greatly in pass protection.

Smallwood has not practiced all week, so it is very unlikely that he'll play on Sunday, even if the Eagles have him listed as questionable. They'll miss him if indeed he's out.

• S Corey Graham (hamstring): Graham played 18 snaps with the regular defense in some of the Eagles' nickel sets Week 1, and 13 additional snaps on special teams. Week 2 he took on a bigger role after the Eagles lost Rodney McLeod to his hamstring injury, playing 41 snaps on defense and an additional 10 on special teams. Graham played through a hamstring injury against the Chiefs, and missed a tackle on Kareem Hunt's 53-yard TD run, which was perhaps the biggest play of the day. He missed the Week 3 and Week 4 games against the Giants and Chargers.

• CB/S Jaylen Watkins (hamstring): With Darby out Week 2 against the Chiefs, Watkins started at corner. It is assumed here that rookie Rasul Douglas will continue to start like he did Weeks 3 and 4 against the Giants and Chargers.

DT Destiny Vaeao (wrist): Vaeao may return this week after missing three games.

Notable players on IR/Suspension/Other

• RB Darren Sproles: Sproles is done for the season with a torn ACL. On the field, Sproles was the Eagles' most well-rounded running back, as he can run inside, run outside, be a weapon in the passing game, and he's easily the team's best back in pass protection. Obviously, because of his small size, however, Sproles has been never been used as a 'workhorse' type of back, but he was typically on the field in the Eagles' most crucial situations. He was also the team's primary punt returner.

With Sproles out, Smallwood is the player who most closely mirrors Sproles' skill set, and newly signed Kenjon Barner has assumed punt return duties.

• CB Sidney Jones: Jones is eligible to come off the NFI list after Week 6, at which point he will be allowed to practice for three weeks before the Eagles will have to decide whether to add him to the 53-man roster or shut him down for the season.

• K Caleb Sturgis: Sturgis was placed on IR with a quad injury suffered Week 1 against the Redskins. He was replaced by newly minted Philadelphia legend Jake Elliott.


LT D.J. Humphries (knee): Humphries is the Cardinals' starting left tackle. He played Week 1 but has missed the last three games, with John Wetzel filling in at LT. That has not gone well.

DT Robert Nkemdiche (calf): Nkemdiche is a talented but unpolished player along the Cardinals' defensive line who has only appeared in seven games since being selected in the first round by the Cardinals in the 2016 NFL Draft.


OG Alex Boone (chest): The Cardinals signed Boone just before the season to take over at LG for Mike Iupati, who went on IR. Boone missed last week's game against the 49ers, with rookie fifth-round pick Will Holden filling in.

WR Jaron Brown (quad): Brown is second on the team behind Larry Fitzgerald in receiving yards, with 205.

WR J.J. Nelson (hammy/tooth): Nelson is third on the team in receiving yards, but is something of an X-factor for the Cards, with his 4.28 speed. Last season, Nelson had 34 catches for 568 yards and 6 TDs as their big play threat.

Notable players on IR/Suspension/Other

RB David JohnsonMany (self-included) had their fantasy football seasons ruined when Johnson dislocated his wrist Week 1. That is a two-to-three month injury. Johnson is a 'do-everything' back. He runs inside, he runs outside, he's phenomenal catching the football out of the backfield, and he's good in pass protection. 

With Johnson in the lineup, the Cardinals' offense is unpredictable because he does everything well. Without him, the Cardinals' offense becomes much more predictable, depending on whether it's Chris Johnson or Bruce Ellington in the game. Either way, neither Chris Johnson nor Bruce Ellington do anything as well as David Johnson.

OG Mike Iupati: Iupati went on IR with a triceps injury. He was the Cardinals' starting left guard. To replace Iupati, the Cardinals signed Alex Boone, who is now also banged up with a pectoral injury. Will Holden started at LG in place of Boone last week against the 49ers. With Humphries (the LT) also on the shelf, the left side of the Cardinals' offensive line has been a mess this season.

OLB Markus Golden: The loss of Golden (ACL) is a very overlooked one, as he had 12.5 sacks for the Cardinals in 2016. In Golden's absence, the Cardinals are likely to start Kareem Martin. That is a significant downgrade.

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