Eagles defensive tackle Javon Hargrave will be out “multiple weeks” because of an upper-body injury.
The Eagles announced the injury news Monday as players took the field in pads for the first time. Hargrave was the team’s big free-agency acquisition this offseason, signing a three-year contract worth up to $39 million in March.
Hargrave, 27, was expected to pair with Fletcher Cox and Malik Jackson, both also highly paid interior pass rushers, to fortify the Eagles’ defensive line from the inside out. According to a league source, the former Pittsburgh Steeler suffered a “minor” pectoral strain that will sideline him on a week-to-week timetable.
Defensive end Derek Barnett is listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury, and wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside and right guard Jason Peters are both day-to-day with lower-body injuries.
Linebacker Duke Riley is missing time with an illness, but it’s unclear what that is. Riley hasn’t been added to the COVID-19/Reserve list, so it’s possible he has an unrelated sickness or was exposed to someone who was sick.
Even in Barnett’s case, week-to-week could mean the team is being cautious with a player with the goal of getting him back healthy for the season opener, which is still more than three weeks away.
The 24-year-old has struggled through injuries for much of his career. He missed 10 games in 2018 with a rotator cuff injury that required surgery and lingered into the 2019 training camp. Last year, he missed time with an ankle injury that he played through at times.
Arcega-Whiteside and Peters were both on the field during the early portion of Monday’s practice, both dressed in shorts and jerseys instead of pads. Peters occasionally joined the huddle to give pointers to Matt Pryor, the first-team right guard in his absence.
Hargrave’s injury marks the second year in which the Eagles’ big free-agency acquisition at defensive tackle was sidelined quickly. Last season, Jackson was carted off the field during the season opener with a Lisfranc foot injury, which ended his season. He played just 32 snaps last year after signing a three-year, $30 million contract in the 2019 offseason.
“It just means right now we’ll be giving a bunch of guys some more reps,” Cox said after practice. “‘J’ will be all right. Me and Malik will get some reps. It will give some other guys a chance to get reps, but we’ll be ready for ‘J’ when he comes back and gets ready.”
Because the pandemic canceled OTAs and rookie minicamp, injuries were a bigger concern than usual heading into training camp. Using the higher-than-usual injury totals in the lockout season in 2011, the NFL and NFLPA agreed to a schedule that would try to mitigate the risks by easing players into padded practices and canceling preseason games.
Still, a handful of notable players were on the injured list either before Monday’s practices or by the end of the day. Gerald McCoy is expected to miss the season with a ruptured quadriceps tendon after signing a three-year deal with the Dallas Cowboys in the offseason. He suffered the injury during practice Monday.
Cox credited the Eagles’ coaches and training staff for easing the team in when asked whether he felt injuries would be a bigger problem than usual in the truncated offseason.
“They’re doing such a good job with us, building this thing up,” Cox said. “Normally our first day of pads, we’re out there two-and-a-half hours. Doug [Pederson] is doing a really good job of making sure guys are being smart with us, making sure guys are ramping up and just getting ready to go.”
Carson Wentz said he’s fortunate not to be in the spot the current North Dakota State quarterback finds himself in.
Trey Lance, a redshirt-sophomore at Wentz’s alma mater, was projected as a potential early pick in the 2021 NFL draft before the university announced this fall’s season would be postponed with the possibility of playing in the spring. For an NFL prospect like Lance, a spring season could complicate the process of entering the draft.
When asked what he’d do in Lance’s situation, Wentz said he’s glad he doesn’t have to make the decision.
“That’s a tough situation,” Wentz said. “Just college football in general is tough. ... I know Trey pretty well, so I’ll get a chance to talk to him probably soon about what the situation is and we’ve talked along the way as well. It’s not a position that I’d want to be in. I know those kids, they want to play and they want to play so badly.
“I don’t know what the right answer is, I don’t have the answers, but in my opinion, they can still get the virus living their life as a normal college kid, whether they’re at school playing football or back home.”
The Eagles waived quarterback Kyle Lauletta, a Downingtown East graduate, and signed wide receiver Marcus Green.
Lauletta joined the team last September and spent the season on the practice squad. The 25-year-old Exton native spent his rookie season on the New York Giants.