The Eagles activated defensive tackle Tim Jernigan to the 53-man roster Tuesday and waived T.Y. McGill, giving themselves a major boost on the defensive line if Jernigan can return to his 2017 form.
Jernigan had been on the non-football injury throughout the summer and season because of offseason back surgery. He returned to practice two weeks ago, and coach Doug Pederson had said he was close to playing. Jernigan will be back with the defensive line against the New York Giants on Sunday, when the Eagles' run defense could use help against star rookie Saquon Barkley.
"He was a big part of our success last year," defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said earlier this month. "He didn't rush a lot on third down, had some in there, but he was a guy that could win a one-on-one away from [Fletcher Cox], which means an awful lot. And he's also a guy that's really stout against the run, but he also has a good enough lateral ability that he can make a sideline-to-sideline play and make some tackles for losses. I think he's also a guy that brings energy to us on defense. He just loves to play, gets out there, he plays tough, plays with some personality, and would be nice to — when we're able to get him back, that will be as welcome as his physical talents."
Jernigan must prove he's healthy and productive after the mysterious back injury. The team has not commented on how the injury occurred, and Jernigan has not spoken to reporters since last season.
But playing time will be available. Haloti Ngata played 47 percent of the snaps Sunday, McGill played 43 percent of the snaps, and Treyvon Hester played 33 percent of the snaps. So the Eagles could use help at the defensive-tackle spot next to Cox, and Jernigan is back to provide it.