November 17, 2017
When the 8-1 Philadelphia Eagles head into Dallas to take on the 5-4 Cowboys on Sunday Night Football, they will do so without Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks, Darren Sproles, and a number of their players that they have been missing for a while now.
While the Eagles have faced more injury adversity throughout the season so far, there's little doubt that the Cowboys have a number of very important players that are banged up or suspended heading into this do-or-die NFC East matchup.
Here's the final Friday injury report, with analysis:
• WR Alshon Jeffery (ankle): Jeffery was a surprise late addition to the injury report on Thursday. Jeffery's season started slowly, but over the last two games, he had 8 catches for 146 yards and 3 TDs.
• LT Jason Peters: Peters tore his ACL and MCL against the Redskins. While the Eagles certainly miss Peters, his loss has not devastated the team so far, s they have gotten competent play from Halapoulivaati Vaitai.
• LB Jordan Hicks: Hicks wasn't off to his best season this year when he went down with a ruptured Achilles. Still, it's a big loss for the Eagles' defense, and Hicks has traditionally been a Cowboys killer.
• 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.
The Eagles' acquisition of Ajayi signals a change in running styles from the small elusive group the Eagles had back in May, to the bruising combo of Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount that they now have.
• CB Sidney Jones: Jones remains on the NFI list. If and when the Eagles activate him, Jones 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. The Eagles still have time to decide to take him off the NFI list before his three-week practice period.
• 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.
• S Chris Maragos: Maragos suffered a knee injury against the Panthers, and was placed on IR. He was the Eagles' best player on their kick coverage unit on special teams, and served as the Eagles' special teams captain.
• LB Sean Lee (hamstring): Lee is the quarterback of the Cowboys' defense, and has been a playmaker against the Eagles in recent matchups. In the only game that mattered between the Eagles and Cowboys last season, Lee had 11 tackles and two tackles for loss. He also had perhaps the play of the night, when he tackled Darren Sproles for a six-yard loss after an ill-advised swing pass that knocked the Eagles out of field goal range. In a Cowboys win in 2015, Lee had 14 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 2 pass breakups and an interception. Huge loss.
• K Dan Bailey (groin): Bailey is the all-time NFL leader in field goal percentage, at 89.9 percent. In his absence, the Cowboys signed Mike Nugent (80.5 percent for his career), who has missed two of his six field goal attempts with Dallas, from distances of 49 and 38 yards.
• OT Tyron Smith (back/groin): The loss of Smith cannot be understated, if he cannot go. The Cowboys' complete lack of offensive line depth was exposed last Sunday by the Atlanta Falcons, which we showed, with gifs and stuff. Smith was listed as questionable for that game, but he did not play. He has not practiced all week, which is usually an indication that he won't be ready for Sunday.
• S Jeff Heath (concussion): Heath is "just a guy," but his backup is rookie sixth round pick Xavier Woods, a player I liked coming out of Louisiana Tech this past offseason. In college, Woods was a gambler who made a lot of big plays, but also gave them up. Over his last three seasons at La Tech, Woods had 14 interceptions and 6 forced fumbles. He made a diving interception on a deflected ball last week against Matt Ryan. Still, he's a rookie, and the Eagles could look to try to take advantage of his inexperience if Heath can't go. Like Smith above, Heath did not practice all week.
• DT Maliek Collins (foot): Collins was listed as questionable on the Cowboys' injury report last week as well, but he played. Collins can be a disruptive interior defender on passing downs (7.5 career sacks in 23 games), but he's a questionable run defender.
• TE Geoff Swaim (knee): Nine career catches in three seasons.
• RB Ezekiel Elliott: Elliott led the NFL in rushing last year, when he had 322 carries for 1631 yards (5.1 YPC) and 15 TDs. Elliott's 2017 campaign (191-783-4.1-7) hasn't been as strong as his rookie season, but there's no question that he is the focal point of the Cowboys' offense. Without him, the Cowboys will rely on Alfred Morris to carry the load. That is a major downgrade.
This is the second game Elliott will miss as part of his six-game suspension.
• DE Randy Gregory: At one point thought of as a potential top 5 pick, Gregory was selected in the second round of the 2015 NFL Draft. He has more suspensions than sacks.
• DT Stephen Paea: Paea was signed by the Cowboys this offseason, and he started the first four games of the season before retiring because of knee issues.
• DE Charles Tapper: Tapper was a rotational defensive end for the Cowboys. He played in two games, and had one sack.
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