Could Tim Jernigan Return to Help the Eagles
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The Eagles made a minor move at defensive tackle on Tuesday night, elevating Treyvon Hester from the practice squad and waiving undrafted rookie Bruce Hector.
Arranging those inconsequential deck chairs around is not likely to help Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox on the interior of the Eagles' defense, however.
Last season DT was a significant strength for Philadelphia between Cox, Tim Jernigan, and Beau Allen but the latter two are no longer in play with Jernigan still rehabbing from offseason back surgery and Allen in Tampa after getting a big-money deal in free agency.
The hope was that veteran Haloti Ngata would offer enough as a two-down run stuffer and Destiny Vaeao could step up and fill the Allen role as the third defensive tackle, albeit in a different way.
The results just haven't been there, though, and the hope that Jernigan, who is still on the NFI list, could return to bolster the group at some point seems to be wavering.
"He's doing well, he's making progress," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said Wednesday at NovaCare Complex when asked about the veteran.
Jernigan has been spotted by 973espn.com around the complex every now and then and seems to be moving OK but he hasn't offered much on how he's feeling after back surgery in April.
The original timetable for Jernigan was placed at six months or so and he's now in his fifth month post-surgery with Week 7 being the demarcation line of when he could return to practice if medically cleared.
Once the return to practice begins, the clock starts on a 21-day window in which to decide whether to activate Jernigan to the 53-man roster. If that deadline passes, however, Jernigan must remain on the NFI list for the remainder of the season.
From Jernigan's standpoint, the push to get back is real because he was forced to renegotiate his much-ballyhooed four-year, $48 million extension last season. Jernigan is owed $3 million this season and the Eagles can walk away from there with no salary-cap penalty so this is essentially a contract year for Jernigan.
No one seems to be counting on getting the Florida State product back, though.
"He's a guy we'll just continue to monitor," Pederson .said "I don't want to put a cap on him, don't want to limit him anyway and any other expectation other than him getting better and healthy at this time."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen