The Eagles' linebackers will get T.J. Edwards back just in time to lose Nate Gerry.
The team placed Gerry and defensive end Genard Avery on injured reserve ahead of Sunday night’s home game against the Dallas Cowboys, clearing two roster spots as Edwards, wide receiver Jalen Reagor, and left tackle Jason Peters are all expected to return from IR. All three players are expected to return to the lineup after being full participants in practice on Friday.
Gerry first popped up on the injury report on Wednesday, the first full practice the team held since its 22-21 win against the New York Giants on Oct. 22. According to an NFL Network report, the 25-year-old has been dealing with an Achilles injury for some time now.
Gerry is the Eagles' No. 1 linebacker. He calls plays for the defense and is typically the one to stay on the field in sub packages that call for extra defensive backs. His 479 defensive snaps are second-highest on the team behind Rodney McLeod and leads linebackers by almost 200.
Gerry has had significant struggles in coverage for most of the season. According to Pro Football Focus, he’s been targeted 31 times this season and has surrendered 28 catches for 299 yards and four touchdowns. His four touchdowns allowed in coverage are tied for the highest total in the league so far this season.
Gerry’s absence will open up more playing time for reserve linebackers like Edwards, Alex Singleton, and Duke Riley. Rookie sixth-round pick Shaun Bradley could also see more playing time. The former Temple star has been used sparingly, mostly coming in for goal-line situations that call for a run-stuffing linebacker.
Edwards missed three games with a hamstring injury suffered in Week 4 against the San Francisco 49ers. Singleton had some nice moments filling in for Edwards, including a pick-six against the Niners and two quarterback hits against the Giants.
“I think overall just in general I think the linebackers have done a really good job and Alex has been making a lot of plays,” Edwards said. “[He’s] playing free, playing fast, as well as Duke, and [Gerry], and guys like that. So it’s been really good as a group, and just to be able to still be in the meetings with those guys and kind of see what they’re seeing just to make sure that we’re on the same page. So I think there’s always more room to work and always more room to get better at things in terms of scheme and reads and all that, but I think we’re in a really good spot right now.”
Like Gerry, Avery mysteriously appeared on the injury report Wednesday. The depth edge rusher only played special teams snaps against the Giants.
The Eagles now have four open roster spots going into the weekend. Reagor, Peters, and Edwards are likely to take up three of those spots, and tight end Dallas Goedert could be in line to take the fourth. Goedert has missed the last four games with a high ankle sprain and cracked tibia, but he said he’s feeling much better earlier this week.
When asked what he needed to do in practice to prove he’d be ready to play, Goedert said he’d need to be healthy enough to be effective.
“I gotta be able to run good routes,” he said. “You know, [if] I go out there at 75% and just get covered, I’m just a waste. So, just making sure I’m feeling good, I look good. And then, it is going to be a decision between us, the coaches, and the trainers, whether or not they think I’m good enough in a position to play.”
The team will also get defensive tackle Malik Jackson back after he missed the Giants game with a quadriceps injury. Right tackle Lane Johnson, who missed practice early in the week with ankle and knee injuries, is also expected to play. Running back Miles Sanders (ankle), cornerbacks Cre’Von LeBlanc (quadriceps) and Craig James (hamstring), offensive lineman Jack Driscoll (ankle), and wide receiver Alshon Jeffery (calf) are all out for the game against the 2-5 Cowboys.