Eagles coaches and players insisted all week there was plenty of meaning for their season finale against Washington.
With Washington needing a win to clinch the NFC East, the Eagles’ chance to keep a division rival from celebrating on their home turf would be enough motivation to go all-out for a win.
The injury report suggests otherwise.
Those available will no doubt play irrespective of the Eagles’ possible draft position, but the team has clearly taken a cautious approach with any player dealing with an injury ahead of Sunday’s 8:20 p.m. home game.
Defensive linemen Fletcher Cox and Derek Barnett, linebackers Shaun Bradley and Duke Riley, tight ends Dallas Goedert and Richard Rodgers, defensive back Jalen Mills, running back Miles Sanders, left tackle Jordan Mailata, and wide receiver DeSean Jackson will all be sidelined for the season finale, while cornerback Michael Jacquet is questionable with a calf injury.
The team placed Bradley and Riley on injured reserve Friday to clear roster spots so practice-squad tight end Jason Croom and linebacker Rashad Smith could be elevated to the active roster.
Coach Doug Pederson said there would be chances for younger players to play because of the injuries, but not to interpret it as the team waving a white flag or tanking for draft position. It’s worth noting the Eagles could pick as high as No. 3 in the first round and would solidify their position in the top six with a loss.
“When there’s injury, it’s always the next man up. If that’s one of the young players, then it’s a great opportunity for him to take the field and show what he can do,” Pederson said during his Friday news conference. “Everybody’s being evaluated obviously. We are in a position where we’re a little banged up this time of year. So, yeah, there’s going to be probably some more of the younger guys playing in this football game.
“But don’t get me wrong, you still want to go be competitive, and you still want to try to win the football game,” Pederson added. “That’s without saying. But if these young guys get a chance to play, then yeah, it’s an evaluation for them as well moving forward.”
The team’s starting offensive line will feature its 14th iteration in 16 games, which is a record that will likely last for some time. Reserve tackle Brett Toth is expected to get the start at either the right or left side, with Matt Pryor taking the other spot. Toth said Friday that he hasn’t started in a game since he was a senior at Army in 2017, ironically in a game against Navy at Lincoln Financial Field.
Toth played 17 snaps against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 6 when injuries left the team dangerously thin at tackle. When Mailata suffered his concussion against the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday, Toth came in for him at left tackle for 10 snaps.
“I’ve had to be ready all season,” Toth said. “You’ve seen what kind of season it’s been. ... I’m just ready for the opportunity.”