When running back Miles Sanders and tight end Zach Ertz had to leave Sunday’s loss to the Ravens with knee and ankle injuries, respectively, it was hard not to think about how the battered, 1-4-1 Eagles play again Thursday, when they host the 1-5 Giants.
Usually when players have to leave a game on Sunday and can’t return, that doesn’t say good things about their availability four days later, unless a miracle occurs. This is not shaping up as a miraculous year for the Eagles; ESPN reported Monday that Sanders will miss a week or two with the knee injury he suffered at the end of his 74-yard run Sunday, and Ertz will be out longer, three-to-four weeks, with a high ankle sprain.
These latest blows to a battered offense might be offset by some key players returning from injury Thursday -- wideout DeSean Jackson (hamstring) is expected to practice and play, and fellow wideout Alshon Jeffery (foot) has a chance to play as well, though Doug Pederson seemed cautious on that front, given the lack of practice time available.
You could argue, though, that with rookie right tackle Jack Driscoll going down Sunday with an ankle injury that is expected to keep him out of the game, the injured regular the Eagles need back in the lineup more than anyone else would be Lane Johnson. NBC10′s John Clark tweeted that his understanding is that Johnson should give his injured ankle another week of rest before trying to play again. Johnson was in and out of games at San Francisco and Pittsburgh before sitting out against the Ravens.
ESPN said Driscoll’s ankle and defensive tackle Malik Jackson’s quad injury might sideline them for two weeks.
Both Ertz and Dallas Goedert now are sidelined with ankle injuries, leaving the Eagles with a tight end corps of Richard Rodgers, Jason Croom, and Hakeem Butler. Croom played his first and so far only Eagles snap Sunday, when he caught a 3-yard touchdown pass. Rodgers caught three passes for 31 yards, but he also missed some key blocks. Butler made his Eagles debut but only played on special teams.
The right tackle situation is even more dire, if Johnson can’t play this week. Brett Toth made his NFL debut Sunday, playing the final 17 snaps after Driscoll went down. There are no more remaining healthy tackles on the 53-man roster, with Jason Peters (toe) and Andre Dillard (biceps) out. Sua Opeta is a guard, Luke Juriga a center. Sixth-round rookie tackle Prince Tega Wanogho is on the practice squad.
Matt Pryor, a swing guard-tackle who missed Sunday’s game after being exposed to someone who tested positive for COVID-19, is OK to play this week, but Doug Pederson said Pryor won’t get many practice reps in the shortened prep period.
With Sanders out, the Eagles have Boston Scott, Corey Clement, and Jason Huntley at running back, with Adrian Killins on the practice squad. Given their paucity of healthy weapons, it might be good to give Jalen Hurts more snaps, at quarterback or running back, just to give the Giants' defense something more to account for Thursday.
Pederson indicated Monday that one reason Hurts has been so effective is that he comes in for “X plays,” special designs “that are sort of unscouted with him.” Nonetheless, using Hurts for more than, say, Sunday’s seven snaps, is “something that we’ve got to continue to explore,” Pederson said.
On a short week, with little practice time, teams tend not to try to add anything novel or elaborate.