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How soon can Marcus Epps help the Eagles’ defense at safety? | Early Birds

He was signed during the bye week and has only had a few days’ work in Jim Schwartz’s scheme.

With the Vikings, safety Marcus Epps (39) comes up short trying to tackle Buffalo's Marcus Murphy in a preseason game.
With the Vikings, safety Marcus Epps (39) comes up short trying to tackle Buffalo's Marcus Murphy in a preseason game.Read moreAdrian Kraus / AP

It’s unclear right now what would happen Sunday if Malcolm Jenkins or Rodney McLeod were injured. The third safety, Andrew Sendejo, was waived during the bye week, because his role had decreased and because the Eagles could position themselves for a fourth-round compensatory pick in next spring’s draft by letting Sendejo go when they did.

Rudy Ford is a safety but is here to play special teams; he has played just one defensive snap all season. Rookie Marcus Epps arrived during the bye week and is in his first week of practice with the Eagles. Right now, with six healthy cornerbacks on the roster, it seems likely that Avonte Maddox would slide back to safety, as he did in an emergency last season, at least until Epps gets better situated.

More on that in just a minute, but if you like what you’re reading, tell your friends it’s free to sign up here​. I want to know what you think, what we should add, and what you want to read, so send me feedback by email or on Twitter @lesbowen.

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Six degrees of Sendejo

Marcus Epps said Thursday that there are similar concepts here as in Minnesota’s defense, and he feels he is learning quickly. As Epps noted earlier in the week, he wasn’t shocked, when after the Vikings waived him, the Eagles put in a claim; he had been on the phone with Eagles safeties coach Tim Hauck when Minnesota drafted him in the sixth round.

Epps was available because when the Eagles waived Sendejo, Minnesota claimed him, returning Sendejo to the team he played for from 2011-18. This meant waiving Epps. At NovaCare, Epps inherited Sendejo’s locker stall. It is next to that of cornerback/special teams player Craig James. Why is that notable? Ah, so glad you asked. Last season, when the Vikings put Sendejo on IR with a groin injury (suffered playing the Eagles, by the way), they filled his roster spot with a guy from their practice squad — Craig James.

Epps, by the way, is one of eight 2016 Wyoming Cowboys now on NFL rosters, which is pretty darned amazing. (Hat tip to @evansilva on Twitter). The others are Bills QB Josh Allen, Falcons RB Brian Hill, Seahawks TE Jacob Hollister, Redskins C Chase Roullier, Saints DE Carl Granderson, Bears WR Tanner Gentry, and Jags safety Andrew Wingard.

What you need to know about the Eagles

  1. Asked for an Eagles comparison to running back duo Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders, running backs coach Duce Staley stepped into the way-back machine.

  2. Jeff McLane, Paul Domowitch, EJ Smith, and I take a shot at predicting the outcome of Sunday’s game.

  3. The Eagles are sitting down for a visit from an old friend on Friday: Jay Ajayi. Could a reunion be in the works?

  4. The Eagles’ defense wants Tom Brady to see its poker face, EJ reports.

  5. Marcus Hayes writes about Doug Pederson asking his skill-position players to step up to the plate. Or the goalpost. You know what we’re getting at here.

  6. It’s looking more and more as if Alshon Jeffery won’t play Sunday, as Jeffery missed another day of practice Thursday. Who can the Eagles turn to to take Jeffery’s place against the Pats? EJ has an answer. You might not like the answer, but he has it.

  7. Mike Sielski suggests that the Eagles are going to need a bit of that Super Bowl LII magic on Sunday, that Doug Pederson might need to pull a rabbit out of his visor.

  8. Every week, Domo compiles his scouting report and prediction, so you won’t have to.

  9. Yes, the Eagles won Super Bowl LII, but Jim Schwartz’s defense allowed 505 yards passing to Tom Brady and 613 total to the Pats that day. Bob Ford wonders whether New England is in for a repeat performance this weekend.

  10. Domo dives into the new-look Eagles offense and tries to figure out whether it’s a winning formula.

From the mailbag

If you could go back in time and alter one play from this season that might have shifted things dramatically, which is it and why? — Betty J Smithsonian (@handstandstore), via Twitter.

Ooh, Betty. This is exactly the sort of question I like. Even if I’m pretty sure your name is not Betty J Smithsonian. (It’s really Felicia Franklin Institute, right?).

There are many worthy candidates, but I think I have to take one of the two possible game-winning catches from Week 2 or Week 3 that were dropped, by Nelson Agholor and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, respectively.

Either play presumably would give the Eagles a 6-3 record and first place in the NFC East right now. I’m gonna ride with Nelly’s drop in Atlanta, though, for a couple of reasons. 1. Given how the Falcons’ season has gone since, this will resonate as the Eagles’ worst loss of 2019, unless they somehow get bested by the Dolphins, and 2. I think Agholor, who was so good in 2017, excellent in Super Bowl LII, is a confidence-based performer.

All of us are, to some extent, but I think Nelly — a very decent, hardworking guy — spends a lot of time inside his own head. If he’d caught that ball, and the Eagles had won that game, who knows how the season might have developed? He might have blossomed into a suitable replacement for DeSean Jackson, or at the very least, a reasonable facsimile of a No. 1 wide receiver. Some subsequent games could have developed very differently (including the Week 3 loss.)