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Some good, some bad on Eagles’ injury front

Better Season

Photo Credit by Philadelphia Eagles

PHILADELPHIA – There is some good news and bad news on the injury front as the Eagles get set to halt a three-game skid against a limited New York Giants team on Christmas Day.

The best developmental unfolded Saturday when DeVonta Smith made it back to practice Saturday and indicated he would play on Monday. Smith fought through a knee injury during the week and missed practices on Thursday and Friday as the organization tried to manage him for the game. The Eagles, of course, have one of the top receiver duos in the NFL in Smith and A.J. Brown but the dropoff has been steep to WR3 whether the team has used Quez Watkins, Olamide Zaccheaus, or in-season veteran pickup Julio Jones.

A more middle-of-the-road development was Mike linebacker Nicholas Morrow being listed as questionable with an abdomen issue despite missing all three days of practice. Will LB Zach Cunningham (knee) has already been ruled out again so if Morrow can’t go, Philadelphia would be down to recent pickup Shaq Leonard and undrafted rookie Ben VanSumeren on the 53.

“We’ll see how I feel (Saturday),” said Morrow. “It’s getting better. It’s one of those things where you don’t know what you’re going to feel until you get out there and run around and see how it feels. We’ll be all right.”

Head coach Nick Sirianni mentioned cross-training at the position and that points to Patrick Johnson and Nolan Smith, as edge rushers who have worked some off the ball, the former much more than the latter. On game day, the lack of LBs would likely mean far more “Big Nickel” with rookie safety Sydney Brown on the field simultaneously with Reed Blankenship and Kevin Byard. Practice squad LB Brandon Smith could also be elevated for the Giants.

Leonard will handle most of the communication with defensive play-caller Matt Patricia if Morrow can’t play.

“He’s a six-year pro, so he can handle it,” said Morrow. “It’s not something he hasn’t done, so we’ll see.”

The hope that Avonte Maddox would return after being out since Week 2 with a torn pec was extinguished when the Eagles ruled out the slot cornerback on Saturday despite a full week of practice. Expect Maddox to return in the next week or two but clearly, the organization believes he needs a ramp-up period after missing three months.

Starting cornerback Darius Slay, who is out after arthroscopic knee surgery, also remains out but gave an update on his condition and mentioned he expects to be ready for the playoffs at the latest. Rookie Kelee Ringo and Eli Ricks will continue to get valuable reps in Slay’s absence.

“I don’t know the timetable,” Slay said. “But it was something that needed to be done. I’ve been getting away with it for four years. It was 2019 since I was traded here. But I’ve been going through it every day. A little Advil and then get it going, but finally Advil ain’t working.

“I’ve been playing on probably like a 30 percent leg for two years. I’m feeling better.”

Asked if he could return before the playoffs, Slay was non-committal.

“We’ll see how it goes. But like I said I am feeling good. I’m progressing in the right direction,” he said.

Staring left guard Landon Dickerson was ruled out after undergoing thumb surgery this week and was already back on the practice field helping so that’s a very good dign long-term. Cam Jurgens (pec) will return to his spot at RG after missing teh Seattle loss and Sua Opeta, who replaced Jurgens against the Seahawks, will slide over to LG to replace Dickerson this week.

For what it’s worth the Eagles feel LG is Opeta’s best position.

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