CLEVELAND — With defensive end Vinny Curry and running back Corey Clement on COVID-19 reserve, the Eagles activated practice-squad pass rusher Joe Ostman for Sunday’s visit with the Cleveland Browns, along with running back Elijah Holyfield.
Ostman, 25, signed with the Eagles as an undrafted free agent in 2018 and has been a fan preseason favorite for his hustle, which also has impressed teammates. He suffered an ACL tear in August 2019 that wiped out his chances to play last season.
Defensive end Derek Barnett left the game for a while with a knee injury and Ostman got some snaps. One of them was as the foil to Nick Chubb on the 54-yard run that seemed to put the Browns in charge for good, about five minutes into the fourth quarter. Ostman had the best shot at stopping Chubb after a short gain, but Chubb stiff-armed Ostman (6-foot-3, 259 pounds) into the soggy turf. Ostman bounced up and eventually made the tackle, but that isn’t what anyone will remember.
Holyfield, a son of former heavyweight champion Evander Holyfield, spent 2019 on Carolina’s practice squad after signing with the Panthers as an undrafted rookie. The Eagles plucked him for their roster just before the end of the season, in order to control his rights for this season. He also made his NFL debut, but played only on special teams.
Also up from the practice squad for this game were defensive tackle T.Y. McGill and tight end Caleb Wilson.
Inactive Sunday were guard Nate Herbig, who has a hand injury; safety Rudy Ford (hamstring); offensive lineman Brett Toth; third quarterback Nate Sudfeld; rookie running back Jason Huntley; and rookie wide receiver Quez Watkins.
Wide receiver JJ Arcega-Whiteside is on the COVID-19 reserve list.
Coronavirus concerns also meant the Eagles flew to Cleveland without wide receivers coach Aaron Moorehead, passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach Press Taylor, and senior defensive assistant Jeremiah Washburn.
The Browns were without defensive end Myles Garrett, sidelined late in the week by a positive COVID-19 test.
The only Eagles offensive line starter who has played every game this season had to leave Sunday’s loss for a while with an elbow injury, but he eventually returned.
Center Jason Kelce was injured late in the second quarter, with rookie center Luke Juriga coming in for his first offensive snaps. Kelce returned for the second half, wearing a black brace on his left arm. He missed snaps for the first time since 2018, but if he can drag his arm out there next week against Seattle, it will be his 100th start in a row.
“That’s a tough son-of-a-gun,” running back Miles Sanders said. “Probably the toughest player on our team.”
One of the reasons Carson Wentz has struggled the past two weeks has been that his best receiver this season, Travis Fulgham, has gotten a lot of attention from the Giants’ and Browns’ defenses. Fulgham hasn’t been able to shake tight coverage, and no one else seems capable of taking advantage of the focus on Fulgham.
Against the Giants, it was one Fulgham catch on five targets, for 8 yards. On Sunday, it was again one catch for 8 yards, this time on seven targets. The Eagles either need to figure out a way to get Fulgham free again, or they need to stop going to him so much.