By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor
The Eagles suffered a slew of injuries in their blowout loss to the Saints. Avonte Maddox, Rasul Douglas, Sidney Jones, Jason Kelce, Jordan Hicks and Rick Lovato were all forced to leave the game. For a team already beaten down with so many injuries, the news was not good. The Eagles secondary by the end of the game consisted soley of cornerbacks who were not on the roster three weeks ago attempting to stop Drew Brees in a year he appears to be the clear MVP favorite.
Head coach Doug Pederson had news on all of them at Monday’s press conference. He said of each:
Jason Kelce – “Kelce is fine”
Rasul Douglas – “Day-to-day”
Avonte Maddox – “Day-to-day”
Sidney Jones – “Probably more week-to-week”
Rick Lovato – “[Concussion] Protocol”
Jordan Hicks – “Week-to-week”
The good news is that no injury is a season ending one and that Kelce, who was named to the Pro Football Focus Midseason All-Pro team, is fine and ready to go.
The bad news comes in the form of Sidney Jones and Jordan Hicks being labelled as week-to-week.
Week-to-week is not good in Pederson’s language. Examples of other players that have been week-to-week are Corey Clement (missed two games), Jalen Mills (missed two games), Haloti Ngata (missed two games), Alshon Jeffery (missed three weeks), Sidney Jones (prior to the Saints game, missed three weeks) and Darren Sproles (missed nine weeks). Pederson using that term essentially means that both Hicks and Jones will be out for at least one game and will likely miss more than that.
Jones was not great in the game last night, but faired better than nearly any other corner. His replacement is a matter of who is healthy enough to play and will almost certainly be someone who is not as skilled. As mentioned above, he missed three games prior to Sunday’s contest.
Hicks, meanwhile, leads the team in tackles. While some fans are upset they haven’t heard his name from interceptions, Hicks has made more plays than anyone on the defense outside Fletcher Cox. 58 tackles, three sacks, six QB hits, four defensed passes and a fumble recovery. Plus he is the one that tipped the ball over to Kamu Grugier-Hill for an interception. That production will be missed. Nathan Gerry figures to play in his stead. Gerry has also missed a few games with injury and will need to avoid that as Hicks played in every defensive snap for the birds prior to this injury.
Also of concern is long-snapper Rick Lovato. The concussion protocol is unpredictable. Lovato could be out of it today or remain there for the rest of the season. The Eagles face a tough roster division here if he is not released from protocol by Thursday. Should they cut another player and carry two long-snappers? Place Lovato on IR and sign someone new? Ride with emergency backup Nathan Gerry (who figures to also be the new starting middle linebacker)? It is a decision the Eagles may be forced to make.
Linebacker and special teams seemed to be the two areas of the Eagles roster that were not hammered by injuries, but the Saints game hit both hard.
Douglas and Maddox being day-to-day is better than anticipated, especially in the case of Maddox. Maddox was beat in coverage and Sidney Jones missed the play on the ball. Instead, Jones pulled Maddox’s leg out from under him as he fell to the ground and Maddox fell hard into what appeared to be a serious knee injury.
Maddox is the more important of the two. A rookie corner, Maddox was asked to play safety, a position he hadn’t played since high school, when Rodney McLeod went down. He has been better than anyone could have anticipated at the position. In fact, the Eagles official depth chart lists Maddox as their top free safety after McLeod went on IR. The Eagles really need Maddox and his versatility.
Douglas was a huge fan favorite, but has lost a lot of support over the last two games. His second and third career starts were not good and he was torched multiple times in each outing. With Jones once again week-to-week, Douglas will be the top corner on the roster unless Jalen Mills can return. It will be a scary thought if Douglas is unable to play as undrafted rookie Chandon Sullivan, who missed two easy interceptions and instead allowed first down catches, would be the top corner on the Eagles depth chart.