November 20, 2019
UPDATE [4:25 p.m.] — The Eagles' concerns at wide receiver might be even worse than previously thought. Nelson Agholor, the current No. 1 wideout on the depth chart with Alshon Jeffery still working his way back and DeSean Jackson remaining sidelined, missed Wednesday's practice with a knee injury, according to the official injury report.
If one had to guess which play Agholor was injured on, it was likely that drop in the back of the end zone late in the game. He landed awkwardly and appeared to be holding his knee exiting the field.
We don't yet know how serious it is, but it was clearly enough to keep him from practice on Wednesday. Hopefully, he'll be upgraded as the week goes on, but it's definitely something worth monitoring heading into Sunday's game against the Seahawks.
It's no secret that injuries have played a big role in the Eagles getting off to a worse-than-expected 5-5 start to the season following last week's loss to the Patriots. It's also no secret that the Eagles are quite familiar with playing through injuries.
They did it in 2017 on their way to the first Super Bowl in franchise history. They did it again last season, and were just a few plays away from getting back to the NFC Championship Game. Now, they're doing it again, and because of their ability to come back from the dead last year, head coach Doug Pederson continues to believe his team can do it again.
"I think last year we were 4-6 at this time and we made a push and got ourselves into the post season," Pederson said Wednesday. "We did need some help obviously at the end of the year, but we still made that run because we felt like we have to control what we can control.
"And so we can look back on that, and number one, through injury, which obviously we're sustaining that on the offensive side of the ball a little bit right now. So the next man up has to play. That's kind of the strength we leaned on with the defense. The next guy up had to play.
"It's just a resilient group. I lean on the leaders, I lean on the veteran players on the team to really keep everything coming. We just have to go practice and continue to trust our process, and do all the little things that really helped us get to the post-season and then ultimately the Super Bowl a couple years ago."
The Eagles will once again need to display that resiliency as they welcome in Russell Wilson and the Seahawks, a team they haven't beaten at home in 30 years, on Sunday. Let's take a look at the list of injured starters for the Eagles, none of whom are guaranteed to return to the field in Week 12, although it's still possible that all of them are back.
Here's the latest...
Johnson left the Eagles' loss to the Patriots with a concussion he suffered at some point on the Birds' lone touchdown drive. According to Pederson, the Eagles starting right tackle is still in the concussion protocol and had not been cleared for practice on Wednesday.
In Johnson's absence, the Eagles are planning to use rookie Andre Dillard throughout the week in case the Pro-Bowl tackle is unable to go on Sunday against the Patriots, leaving Halapoulivaati Vaitai as the team's third tackle. Earlier this season, Dillard filled in nicely for Jason Peters at left tackle. Now he faces another tough challenge, as he'll be asked to move to the opposite side of the line — Dillard was noticeably absent from that RT position last week when Johnson first went down, but as Pederson explained after the game, that was because he hadn't had any time to prepare from the right side, and Pederson didn't want to throw him into the fire against the NFL's best defense.
Now, he'll have a week of practice to prepare himself should Johnson not get cleared.
"One of the things we loved about Andre is not only his durability but flexibility, his versatility to play both left and right," Pederson said at his Wednesday press conference. "And even though he's been limited on the right side, he's primarily a left tackle for us, this will be a great week of preparation for him to really kind of hone in his skill and be a swing tackle in that case.
"But he'll do a great job this week. He'll prepare and it's just a matter of, honestly, you're playing on the right side. Movement skill is kind of the opposite from the left; you’re more to the right, unless you have to step down, things like that. But he'll pick up on it quickly and be fine."
Howard, who still hasn't been cleared for contact since suffering a stinger in the Eagles' Week 9 win over the Bears, will return to a limited role in practice this week. His status still remains up in the air for Sunday, but if he can't go for the second straight week, we could see our first action from Jay Ajayi.
"Yes, I think there is a role [for Ajayi]," Pederson said. "And this week, if Jordan can't go obviously again, then that role would increase. Don't take what I'm saying here -- we signed Jay because of [RB Darren] Sproles."
That last part is interesting, as Pederson seemingly wanted to make it clear that Ajayi wasn't signed because the team fears Howard will be out longterm. But that begs the obviously followup — why sign Ajayi to replace Sproles when the two are very different in their style of play?
"I understand that, but from a roster position it was Sproles," Pederson said. "Sproles went on injured reserve, so it wasn't because of [RB] Jordan [Howard]. But we do see a role for Jay. Even though we signed him late in the week, we knew there wasn't going to be a ton of activity in the game Sunday, but I think moving forward we can get him involved a little bit more."
There is good news, however, as Pederson also said that Howard continues to improve each day, adding that it's just "a slow process right now."
Jeffery, who surprisingly leads the Eagles in dropped passes this season, hasn't played since suffering an ankle injury against the Bears. However, the veteran wideout is expected to return to practice this week after being sidelined all of last week.
If Jeffery can't go on Sunday, that means the Eagles will be rolling with the same wide receiver corps as last week — Nelson Agholor, Jordan Matthews, Mack Hollins and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside — and that's not promising.
Bradham (ankle) hasn't played since the Eagles' Week 7 loss to the Vikings, but he could return on Sunday against Seattle. Bradham is expected to be out on the practice field on Wednesday. If he's cleared to play in Week 12, the Eagles will have a decision to make at middle linebacker. Do they replace Nate Gerry, who has been calling the plays for the defense with Bradham sidelined, or do they pull the plug on rookie T.J. Edwards, who has also been starting at linebacker in Bradham's absence.
Stay tuned as the week continues for all the latest on the Eagles injuries.
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