HOUSTON – Rookie defensive tackle Jordan Davis will be sidleined for at least four games after being placed on injured reserve Wednesday afternoon.
The Eagles’ 2022 first-round pick suffered a high ankle sprain late in the first half of last Sunday’s blowout win over the Pittsburgh Steelers, according to an NFL source. Davis had played 19 snaps before the injury, and was seemingly en route to surpassing his career-high of 29 against Arizona on Oct. 9.
Typically, a high ankle sprain is at least a four-to-six-week injury and the earliest Davis could return to the lineup now is Dec. 4 when the Tennessee Titans and Derrick Henry invade Lincoln Financial Field. It could be even worse, though, as evidenced this week when Minnesota lost tight end Irv Smith to a high ankle sprain and labeled his timeline as eight-to-10 weeks, something that forced the Vikings to trade for Pro Bowl TE T.J. Hockenson at the trade deadline.
Through the Eagles’ 7-0 start, Davis has played in 33% of the defensive snaps at a very effective level being graded ninth best DT in the NFL by Pro Football Focus.
His role as a zero or shade technique in the Eagles’ 5-2 or 5-1 fronts is a very important but misunderstood one. It’s Davis’ job to stuff the run and help get Jonathan Gannon’s defense into favorable circumstances on second and third downs which opens up the playbook and is the foundation of the many splash plays fans have seen this season.
The esoteric nature of that domino effect doesn’t always show up on the stat sheet where Davis has 14 tackles — one for loss — and one pass defense.
This was the obvious procedural path fpr the Eagles but coach Nick Sirianni took the subterfuge as long as his could by still feigning ignorance as late as Wednesday morning before the Eagles’ took flight to Houston for Thursday night’s game against the Texans.
“Still sorting through that,” Sirianni claimed. “We don’t have to make a decision yet. Still sorting through it. Letting it heal for another day, and obviously a little bit longer and we don’t have to make a decision quite yet, so we’ll see.”
Second-year man Marlon Tupulotu is most likely to get more snaps in the team’s “big packages.” Tuipulotu had a career-high 36 snaps against teh Stelers and is better quipeed to play nose or shade technique at 307 pounds.
The rest of the Eagles’ DTs — Fletcher Cox, Javin Hargrave and Milton Williams — are talented but not comfortable with playing major snaps at zero- or one-technique although Cox and Hargrave will almost surely be asked to do it at times.
Also in the mix will be practice squad DT Marvin Wilson, who has an excellent summer and has similar size to Tuipulotu.
The quick week won’t allow many changes against the 1-5-1 Texans and any deficiencies against a poor foe are unlikely to unveil themselves. Gannon and his staff will then have 11 days after that before the Week 10 game against Washington on Monday night Nov. 14.
“This is another interview for somebody else,” Brandon Graham said. “Then you get to play with some of us that you don’t normally get to be in with and let’s see how you handle that. “There’s a lot of good things that can come from it. It depends on how you look at it, but it’s definitely one of those things where the young guys have to step up.”