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Eagles inactives: Birds sit John Hightower vs. Saints in favor of JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Quez Watkins, shuffling deck at wide receiver

Both Arcega-Whiteside and Watkins have more experience with Jalen Hurts, since both wideouts typically spend the practice week on the scout team.

Eagles wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside on the field before the game against the Giants on Nov. 15.
Eagles wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside on the field before the game against the Giants on Nov. 15.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

The Eagles shook things up at the bottom of the wide receiver depth chart.

Both JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Quez Watkins were active for against the New Orleans Saints with John Hightower being a healthy scratch.

Hightower, Nate Sudfeld, Jason Huntley, Rudy Ford, Grayland Arnold, Michael Jacquet, and T.J. Edwards were the seven inactive players ahead of the home matchup with the 10-2 Saints.

It’s possible Watkins and Arcega-Whiteside were given the nod because of their familiarity with Jalen Hurts, who is in line to make his first career start. Both wideouts haven’t played much on the offense this season and presumably spend more of their practice time on the scout team, catching passes from Hurts for most of the season.

» READ MORE: Eagles rally behind Jalen Hurts, the running game, and a depleted defense in 24-21 win over the Saints

Hightower, the fifth-round pick in the draft in April, has played 40% of the team’s snaps, while Arcega-Whiteside has played 12% and Watkins just 2%.

“Quez Watkins has a really good relationship with Jalen,” coach Doug Pederson said last Friday. “They’ve been throwing a lot together on the service team. With JJ now coming back and getting in the mix, he’s been working a lot with him.”

The Eagles were thin at linebacker with Edwards out with a hamstring injury. Alex Singleton and Duke Riley were the most experienced of the group, with Shaun Bradley, Joe Bachie, and Rashad Smith likely playing roles on special teams.

Bachie and Smith have yet to play for the Eagles, and Bachie joined the team only last week after being added from the Saints’ practice squad. He has yet to practice with the Eagles because coronavirus protocols require new players to undergo testing and attend meetings only virtually for a week.

Maddox leaves with knee injury

Eagles cornerback Avonte Maddox left the game in the second quarter after suffering a knee injury.

Maddox was shaken up after helping tackle Saints running back Latavius Murray in the second quarter and didn’t return. His absence leaves the team dangerously thin at cornerback. Michael Jacquet, one of the main backup corners, was already inactive with a hamstring injury that held him out of practice all week. The second outside cornerback snaps were split between Nickell Robey-Coleman and Kevon Seymour, who was signed to the practice squad on Dec. 2 and got promoted Saturday.

Seymour, who was drafted in 2016, hadn’t played in an NFL game since 2017 before Sunday night.

Just a little rusty

For the first time this season, someone other than Carson Wentz went out for the coin flip Sunday. Safety Rodney McLeod watched as the Eagles won, and correctly conveyed that they wanted to defer. But McLeod started to jog away before saying which end the Eagles wanted to kick from.

With his microphone still on, referee Jerome Boger had to yell, “Hey! McLeod!” Boger was laughing as he announced the Eagles would kick from north to south.

» READ MORE: Grading the Eagles’ performance in Sunday’s impressive 24-21 win over the Saints