October 09, 2019
UPDATE [3:30 p.m.] — According to Tim McManus of ESPN, sources say DeSean Jackson is hoping to return in time for the Eagles' big Week 7 matchup against the Cowboys, but that's not a guarantee at this point either.
Jackson is targeting a return Week 7 against Dallas but that's not a slam dunk. The current return window is believed to be between Week 7 and Week 9 against the Chicago Bears as he continues to heal from an abdominal strain suffered Week 2 against the Atlanta Falcons. ...
The original hope was that Jackson would be out two weeks, but upon further consultation he opted to allow the injury to heal longer. Even so, there's an expectation that he'll have to play through pain when he does return. [espn.com]
The Eagles may be 2-0 in their last two games, but they're about to embark on arguably their toughest stretch of games this season — three straight road games against teams with winning records — and they'll have to do so without their full complement of players.
On defense, the team remains without several key members of its secondary, like Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby, Avonte Maddox and more, but they could be getting Sidney Jones back this week.
On offense, while players like Dallas Goedert and Alshon Jeffery have returned to action, it's looking like the Eagles will still be without deep threat DeSean Jackson this week when they travel to Minnesota to take on the Vikings.
"DeSean — we're going to try to at least progress him this week, try to get him on the field and see what he can do from a rehab standpoint only," head coach Doug Pederson told reporters on Wednesday. "[We'll] see where he's at, and then go from there."
Pederson classified Jackson's abdominal injury as "week-to-week," meaning that Jackson, who has still not returned to practice after leaving the team's Week 2 loss to the Falcons, is likely out against the Vikings. That being said, Jackson's return to on-field rehab is at least a step in the right direction.
The Eagles coach also recently confirmed that Jackson's injury is an abdomen strain, and not a dreaded sports hernia, despite earlier reports that at least one doctor recommended surgery for the speedy wideout.
"I'm not familiar with the injury that he has," Pederson added. "But I would think with a guy like DeSean — who's a track guy, who's a runner, obviously — he's got to have a level of comfort with that injury, with all the stopping and starting and things of that nature. So it's really until I think he gets to that point that we'll make a decision."
Jackson absence has been noticeable on the field, as the Eagles' wideouts have struggled to stretch the field since Jackson's two touchdown receptions of 50-plus yards in their season-opening win over Washington. In fact, over the last three weeks, none of their wide receivers has totaled 100 receiving yards in a single game.
Eagles receiving yards the last three weeks:— Reuben Frank (@RoobNBCS) October 9, 2019
186 … Ertz
122 … Miles
90 … Alshon
75 … Mack
70 … Nelly
28 … Jordan Howard
27 … Goedert
10 … JJAW
This is bad.
As Dave Zangaro pointed out in a recent piece on NBC Sports Philadelphia, Wentz has completed six passes of 30 or more yards this season, including those two to Jackson in the opener. But since Jackson went down, Wentz has four in four games: one to Nelson Agholor in Week 2, and three to rookie running back Miles Sanders. That's not ideal.
And that problem, as Dave writes, isn't likely to go away until the Eagles get Jackson back on the field:
"The real problem without Jackson is the guys who are filling in for him aren’t getting it done. Agholor is starting to look like he did early in his career. He’s dropped several balls, including what should have been a game-winner in Atlanta. And Mack Hollins hasn’t done nearly enough either.
"Meanwhile, rookie JJ Arcega-Whiteside can’t get on the field. That’s because he’s Alshon Jeffery’s backup, but there were receivers drafted after him who had the element of speed who would help right now. That’s not to make any declarative statements about his career — that would be crazy; it’s too early — but that draft pick isn’t helping right now.
"In the last two wins, the Eagles have gotten by without Jackson because of their ability to run the ball and their use of 12 personnel (two tight ends). But they’re just missing something without Jackson in the lineup." [nbcsports.com]
Pederson said on Wednesday that Jackson's absence hasn't changed how opposing defense play against the Eagles.
"They're playing their defense honestly," he said. "They still have to account for Alshon [Jeffery] and Nelly [Nelson Agholor], and of course the two tight end that we have, and then the success of the run game. They just continue to play their defense.
"I would say the only team that really kind of got out of — and really not got out, it's in their nature, was Detroit when they doubled Zach [Ertz] on third down. They didn't want Zach to really get going. They doubled him in the red zone.
"Other than that, teams have really been sticking to their game plan."
However, a few weeks of tape out on the Jackson-less Eagles could change how opposing defenses attack the Birds. And with a division matchup against the Cowboys on deck following their trip to Minnesota, Jackson can't return soon enough.
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