Jason Peters placed on injured reserve as the Eagles' battered offensive line takes another blow; Jordan Mailata to get first start
It's yet another adjustment for an offensive line that has struggled to find cohesion this season.
Eagles left tackle Jason Peters will miss “multiple weeks” and go on injured reserve with a toe injury uncovered on an MRI on Friday, a league source said Saturday. The news of his injury was first reported by the NFL Network.
Peters’ replacement, a source said, will be Jordan Mailata, the Australian former rugby player in his third year of trying to learn a new sport. Mailata, 23, has gotten onto the field this season in each of the three games the team has played, something that didn’t happen in 2018 or 2019. But he has not started or played anything close to an entire regular-season game.
Peters, 38, limped off the field late in overtime of the Eagles' 23-23 tie with the Bengals last Sunday. The reason was described as “fatigue.” Then he missed practice Wednesday and Thursday with an unspecified illness. When Peters practiced Friday, he told medical personnel about foot discomfort, and got tests, the source said.
Given Peters' age and injury history, this is hardly a shock, but it adds to a chaotic scene on the offensive line, where inexperienced guards Nate Herbig and Matt Pryor are filling in for injured starters Isaac Seumalo and Brandon Brooks. The Eagles are six-to-seven-point underdogs Sunday night as they travel to face the San Francisco 49ers.
After Mailata, the next tackle up would be rookie Jack Driscoll, who started the opener when right tackle Lane Johnson was sidelined with an ankle injury.
Peters' roster spot will be filled with practice squad center Luke Juriga, who has been signed to the active roster along with wide receiver Travis Fulgham and running back/returner Adrian Killins. Peters went on IR along with corner Trevor Williams (ribs). A reminder to those following casually -- IR this year can end at any time after three weeks, and teams aren’t limited in the number of players they can activate off the list.
Also, you can activate as many as four practice squad players per week, but a player can be activated that way only twice in a season. Defensive back Grayland Arnold and wide receiver Deontay Burnett have been activated for this game. It’s the second activation for both. Burnett caught three passes for 19 yards last Sunday against Cincinnati. So if Arnold or Burnett is going to play here again this season, they will have to be official members of the 53-man roster.
With rookie Quez Watkins just starting to get back in the flow after coming off IR, Carson Wentz’s wide receiving corps this week would seem to be: Greg Ward, rookie John Hightower, Fulgham, and Burnett. JJ Arcega-Whiteside (calf) is listed as “doubtful.” There also is Hakeem Butler, a wide receiver signed off the Carolina practice squad this past week who is considered a tight end by the Eagles.
This could be the most inexperienced wideout corps ever fielded by the Eagles, with Ward (10 games) as the senior member, assuming Arcega-Whiteside (19 games) doesn’t play.
At wideout, the Eagles are missing DeSean Jackson (hamstring), Jalen Reagor (thumb), and Alshon Jeffery (foot), in addition to Watkins and Arcega-Whiteside, who are not expected to play.
Recapping the offensive line carnage: In the offseason, the Eagles tried to delicately say goodbye to Peters, whose availability game-to-game and quarter-to-quarter had become one of several perennial injury concerns. They had drafted Andre Dillard in the first round in 2019 to take his place.
But Brooks, one of the best right guards in football, suffered an Achilles tear in June while recovering from a shoulder injury. The Eagles brought back Peters to play right guard, but also potentially as insurance for Dillard, whose development was not enhanced by the pandemic-affected offseason.
Dillard tore his biceps. Peters eventually moved back to left tackle, after getting his contract adjusted. Johnson underwent a minor ankle procedure. Seumalo suffered a knee injury. Herbig, who had played three offensive snaps as a 2019 undrafted rookie, started the first two games at right guard, then moved to left guard to take over for Seumalo. Pryor, once considered the replacement for Brooks, then for Dillard, started last week at right guard.
When the Eagles take the field against the 49ers, the only 2019 offensive line starter to appear in all four starting lineups this season will be center Jason Kelce. Unless something happens to him before kickoff.
The Eagles' injured reserve list contains 17 players, dating back to Brooks' injury. That’s counting Jeffery and Watkins, who are back at practice but have not played. Jeffery and Watkins are among several injured Eagles who could return next week, when the Eagles are scheduled to visit the unbeaten Pittsburgh Steelers.