The Eagles will be without veteran wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery once again this Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens.
Jackson will miss his third game of the season with a hamstring injury after being limited all week in practice. Eagles coach Doug Pederson said the 33-year-old Jackson had a good practice Thursday, but he was ruled out after Friday’s session. Jeffery, 30, has yet to play this season after suffering a foot injury last season.
It’s worth noting the Eagles have a quick turnaround after the Ravens game; they’re scheduled to play the New York Giants at home on Oct. 22.
The Eagles chose to keep Jeffery on the 53-man roster instead of placing him on the Physically Unable to Perform list at the start of the season, which meant he’d take up a roster spot even though he’s been injured. They did so with the hope Jeffery would be back sooner than the six weeks he’d have to sit if he was placed on PUP. But he’ll miss the sixth week of the season and possibly longer.
“When you don’t put a guy like Alshon on PUP, we hopefully anticipated him coming back within the six weeks, and it has taken a little bit longer,” Pederson said. “But again, you guys know that I want to make sure that he’s 100 percent. He’s just now getting back into practice, right? He’s done some individual work and now he’s into practice. I mean, listen, I think medically Alshon’s case, our case, we were hopeful that within the six weeks he would have been back. I can’t second-guess the decision, obviously, but he is getting close."
The team will lean on the group of young, developmental receivers yet again with the veterans still on the mend. Travis Fulgham, who was promoted from the practice squad two weeks ago, has emerged as the team’s top receiving option, and Greg Ward and John Hightower have both been starters alongside Fulgham.
Coming off a 10-catch performance against Steelers, Fulgham is likely in store for some extra defensive attention this Sunday, something he’s prepared for.
“[I’ll] just keep doing what I’m doing,” Fulgham said. “If I’m effective with my route-running, I should be open.”
Wallace draws praise from Manuel
The Eagles will be without safety Marcus Epps (ribs) and cornerback Avonte Maddox (ankle) this week.
Without Maddox at cornerback, Jalen Mills will likely be filling in at the outside cornerback spot for the third week in a row. Over the last two weeks, Epps and fourth-round rookie K’Von Wallace have split the safety responsibilities vacated by Mills' move to his old position. Without Epps, there’s a good chance Wallace will be playing more, although it’s possible defensive back Will Parks will be activated from the injured reserve in time to play some of those snaps.
Regardless of what happens, Wallace’s play in the last two weeks has garnered praise from defensive backs coach Marquand Manuel.
“He’s maturing at a nice pace,” Manuel said Friday. “Detailed in meetings. Taking it to the practice field. And now, getting live game action. Not having a preseason has been huge around the league [for rookies]. So to get game action and come in, I thought he’s done a good job of acclimating himself to smaller roles and dominating those. That’s kind of been from the standpoint of watching him get a chance to play on [special] teams and flourish and coming in and playing a little defense and understanding what to do, when to do it, how to do it. Taking the classroom to the field. That’s been huge.”
Wallace played 27 defensive snaps against the 49ers in Week 4 and 13 against the Pittsburgh Steelers last week.
“I’m always going to be ready, I’m always going to know what to do,” Wallace said. “You’ll never see a guy that’s going to have mental errors out there and going to look lost. I’m always going to put my best foot forward and do what I can do for my team.”
Tackling with a purpose
Linebacker Alex Singleton is in line for more playing time after Duke Riley was ruled out of Sunday’s game with a rib injury.
Singleton’s expanded role in the defense will likely benefit a good cause: He has set up a fundraiser for the Special Olympics linked to his tackle total this year. According to the fundraiser’s website, each tackle Singleton makes this year is worth $104 toward his $2,000 goal. Singleton’s older sister, Ashley, has competed in the Special Olympics in both swimming and bowling over the last 20 years.
“Every opportunity I get to be on the field, it’s one of those things it’s always in the back of my mind is the people I’m playing for,” said Singleton, 26, who joined the Eagles last year after three seasons in the Canadian Football League.
“I’m thankful for every extra rep I get in a game, every tackle I get. It’s kind of the first thing I think about is helping that group of individuals who are going to benefit from something I get to do for a living and love to do, but also to be able to give back to a community I support, and really excited they get to be involved with football as well.”