The Eagles will return to the well of backup offensive linemen once again.
Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson and right guard Matt Pryor will both miss Sunday’s home game against the Baltimore Ravens. Johnson is sidelined with a nagging ankle injury, while Pryor will miss the game after being added to the Reserve/COVID-19 list.
Pryor hasn’t tested positive for the coronavirus and has no symptoms, according to a source. Pryor was believed to have been in close contact with someone who has tested positive. As of Friday night, he was the only Eagles player added to the COVID list, and the first to be added to the list since August.
The NFL has recently altered its policies regarding players with symptoms consistent with the virus to hold out players even if they haven’t tested positive for the virus, due to an abundance of caution.
“We’re taking all the precautions and making sure that he’s safe and healthy,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. “So he’s going to miss this game.”
Jamon Brown will replace Pryor, who started the season as a backup before going in at right guard for Week 2.
The Eagles signed Brown off the Chicago Bears' practice squad in Week 2. A third-round pick of the then-St. Louis Rams in 2015, the 27-year-old has started 47 games in his NFL career, including eight for the New York Giants in 2018 and nine for the Atlanta Falcons last season.
“He’s played and started in this league,” Pederson said. “You go back and watch some of his tape, he’s done some things well. He’s been with us now for a couple of weeks, and as you guys know, whenever we get a new player, it’s about catching them up to speed on our playbook. He’s done a nice job. He’s a smart guy."
Brown said he’s confident in his understanding of the Eagles scheme, pointing to his experience playing for several teams before this season as a resource.
“That’s a lot of what I’m leaning on,” Brown said. “I’m going to take the experiences that I’ve had over the past five years and plug it into this system and go from there. I’ve played a lot of football. It hasn’t been too big of an adjustment here. It’s just really just converting terminology and techniques. I think I’ve had a good week of really getting in there and grinding at that."
What can Brown bring to the position?
“I would like to say swag. ... No, I’m just playing,” he said. “I like to think that’s part of it. But I think I bring a little experience. Again, I’ve started a lot of games. I’ve helped a few organizations win some games and have some success. I think I’m aggressive. So I’m bringing that to the table. I’m going to bring my personality, my aggression, my passion."
Brown will be the third player to start at right guard for the Eagles this season, after Week 1 starter Nate Herbig moved to the left guard spot and Pryor took his place. The right side of the Eagles line was supposed to feature Brandon Brooks and Johnson, two of the best at their positions when healthy, but Brooks tore an Achilles in the offseason and Johnson is battling an ankle injury that required surgery in August.
Rookie right tackle Jack Driscoll will get his second start of the season with Johnson on the sideline. Johnson hasn’t practiced this week after the swelling in his ankle forced him to leave last Sunday’s game against the Steelers. It’s possible the team is trying to give him a chance to rest his hobbled ankle in anticipation of next week’s Thursday Night Football matchup against the Giants, a much more winnable game than the upcoming one against the Ravens.
“We have Jack ready to go,” Pederson said. “Jack has done a nice job, and listen, he’s played all the way back to Week 1. He’s got a lot of time on task. This guy, he’s all about business, and that’s what you like about Jack Driscoll as a young player. Another opportunity for him to get better this week.”
The starting offensive line is now expected to feature tackle Jordan Mailata and Herbig on center Jason Kelce’s left side, and Brown and Driscoll on the right. This configuration will be the fifthcombination of offensive line starters the team has utilized in the first six weeks of the season, and makes Kelce the only starter left from the group that was expected to play going into training camp.
The team is also without injured tight end Dallas Goedert (ankle), arguably the best blocking tight end on the roster. Eagles senior offensive assistant coach Rich Scangarello said the loss of players complicates things, but he wouldn’t use it as an excuse for the offense’s occasional struggles.
“You have to adjust the style of your offense when you lose a guy like Dallas, not only on the O-line. That’s a huge impact, [losing] his abilities as a run blocker," Scangarello said. “Those things affect things. It’s our job as coaches to adapt to the guys we have and put the best plan forward.”