NEW ORLEANS -- Injuries overshadowed an amazing start to Sunday’s divisional round playoff game for the Eagles.
All-Pro defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, starting cornerback Rasul Douglas, and Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks were out by the time the second quarter reached its midway point, although Cox and Douglas eventually made it back.
But Brooks, the Eagles' Pro Bowl right guard, left the Superdome on crutches, his right leg in a cast. Later Brooks tweeted that he had torn his right Achilles tendon, an injury that could sideline him into next season.
Cox was injured on a play that seemed a huge momentum-turner.
The Saints, down 14-0, faced fourth-and-1 at their 30. The Eagles had declined a holding penalty on the third-down play. New Orleans faked the punt, using jack-of-all-trades Taysom Hill, lined up behind the center. Hill ran for 4 yards and a first down, and Cox left with a foot injury.
New Orleans eventually scored on the drive, Drew Brees hitting Keith Kirkwood, who was covered by Josh Hawkins, with Douglas out. The Eagles signed Hawkins to their practice squad Dec. 11 and brought him up to the roster Dec. 26.
Douglas injured an ankle. Cox returned to the field with 35 seconds left in the half. Wide receiver Alshon Jeffery exited the field before halftime with an apparent injury, too, though he returned.
The offense, and the running game in particular, seemed to bog down without Brooks, who was replaced by veteran guard-center Stefen Wisniewski, who rarely practices on the right side.
Eagles center Jason Kelce said he has not made any decision about his future in the NFL after a report by Footballstories Magazine indicated that Kelce will likely retire.
“This is a game where I am getting older and I think that for the last three years, realistically, I’ve tried to stay in the moment and stay in the season,” Kelce said. “And at the end of the year, you reassess and reevaluate. I certainly have not made any decisions or anything like that. It’s the same situation as last year and the year before that. It’s probably a similar situation to what Chris Long has been through the last few years. Nick Foles has mentioned it.
“Reality is it’s a hard game physically, and the older you get, the competitor in you, the player in you, obviously wants to keep playing and keep going, and through the rigors of the season, my family and friends are taking the brunt of all the positives and negatives going on. So I can’t really stress that I haven’t made a decision to retire at all. This is a season-by-season basis thing that probably will happen for the rest of my career.”
Kelce, 31, has been with the Eagles since 2011. He has two years remaining on his contract.
The Eagles continued to play without cornerback Sidney Jones and wide receiver Mike Wallace, both of whom were inactive even though their practice participation increased during the week.
Wallace has not played since Week 2 because of a foot injury. Jones did not play the last four games because of a hamstring injury. Both players were listed as questionable.
The Eagles' other inactive players were linebacker B.J. Bello, defensive tackle Bruce Hector, offensive lineman Matt Pryor, offensive lineman Chance Warmack, and quarterback Carson Wentz (back). Wentz, Jones, and Wallace were missing the game because of injuries; the other four were healthy scratches.
Linebacker D.J. Alexander was back in the lineup after missing three games with a hamstring injury, giving a boost to special teams.
Defensive end Michael Bennett (foot), tackle, Jason Peters (quadriceps), and wide receiver Shelton Gibson (hamstring) all played even though they were listed as questionable. Peters left the game in the second half with a back issue.
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