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September 20, 2017

Eagles DBs Rodney McLeod and Jaylen Watkins won't practice, remain 'day-to-day'

With the absence of Ronald Darby for another three-to-five weeks after his injury Week 1 against the Washington Redskins, the Philadelphia Eagles are already thin in their secondary heading into their matchup against the New York Giants this Sunday in their home opener at Lincoln Financial Field.

They may also be without starting safety Rodney McLeod and cornerback/safety Jaylen Watkins, who both injured their hamstrings Week 2 against the Kansas City Chiefs.

Doug Pederson told reporters that both players remain 'day-to-day' and will not practice on Wednesday.

On Monday, PhillyVoice reported that McLeod's initial diagnosis was a 'grade 1 hamstring strain.' That is the lowest grade of hamstring pulls, and could keep him out short-term, but is not considered to be a long-term injury, assuming proper rest and treatment. Still, he could miss Sunday's game and potentially more, as muscle injuries are always unpredictable.

Before the Eagles traded for Darby, the team specifically watched his game tape against Giants star receiver Odell Beckham Jr., Jim Schwartz acknowledged on Tuesday. Darby would have clearly been the player the Eagles would ideally get matched up on Beckham whenever appropriate.

"I think what you saw from Week 1 to Week 2, and if (Beckham) is 100 percent going into Week 3, then I think they start feeding him the ball a little bit more," said Pederson. "It definitely changes the complexity of their system when he's out there. He's very explosive with the ball in his hands. He's a dangerous receiver and we have to account for him. You have to know where he's at." 

With Darby out, Watkins started last week in Kansas City. If Watkins cannot go, the Eagles will be down to only Jalen Mills, Rasul Douglas, Patrick Robinson, and Dexter McDougle at corner. The severity of Watkins' hamstring injury is not yet known.

If McLeod cannot go, the Eagles will be down to just Malcolm Jenkins, Corey Graham, and Chris Maragos at safety.

In 2016, the Giants' offense was surprisingly ineffective for a team that went 11-5 and made the playoffs. Here's a look at their offensive numbers last year:

 2016 Giants offenseStat NFL Rank 
 Yards per game330.7 25 
 Points per game19.4 26 
 Yards per play 5.223 
 First downs per game 18.129 
 3rd down percentage36% 28 
 Turnovers 27T-24 
 Red zone TD percentage51.1%22 

This year, through two games, they've been even worse, averaging 251.5 yards per game (28th in the league) and managing to score just one touchdown on offense. That has been primarily due to poor offensive line play, as they have failed to protect Eli Manning or open up holes in the run game.

Still, the Giants have playmakers on offense in Beckham, slot receiver Sterling Shepard, rookie tight end Evan Engram, and the yet-to-wake-up Brandon Marshall.

While the Eagles' front four has been able to get to the quarterback consistently in the first two weeks of the season, it is perhaps even more imperative that they do so Week 3 against the Giants with a secondary that could be missing three key players.

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