Eagles Could Have Fletcher Cox Back Against Panthers
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — Facing a difficult road test on a short week, the Eagles could get a major boost with the potential return of star defensive tackle Fletcher Cox.
The veteran Pro Bowl selection, who has missed the last two games with a calf strain, was listed as questionable for Thursday's game at the Carolina Panthers and Eagles coach Doug Pederson said Cox will travel with the team to Charlotte.
Cox was a full participant in Tuesday's practice but was noncommittal about returning while talking at his locker after the session.
"He seems to be okay," Pederson said Wednesday when discussing Cox. "He's progressing. Again we'll take it right up to the 90 minute on game day [to] make that decision. But he is feeling better."
Having Cox against a Panthers team that is led by Cam Newton, a former MVP who is one of the better dual-threats in the league at the quarterback position, could be essential. Carolina is also fond of using a lot misdirection with its offense, something that becomes much more difficult with a strong interior push from the defense.
The Eagles also listed running back Wendell Smallwood (knee) as questionable on Wednesday and ruled out starting right tackle Lane Johnson (concussion) as expected. Halapoulivaati Vaitai will replace Johnson.
"He's getting better," Pederson said of Vaitai. "He's played and that's the biggest thing for him is he's playing with a little confidence right now too which also helps him."
Also in the 50/50 category are defensive tackle Beau Allen (foot) and Destiny Vaeao (wrist), defensive end Chris Long (foot) and defensive back Jaylen Watkins.
Long, however, told 973espn.com on Tuesday that he expects to play.
EAGLES MOURN THE LOSS OF FORMER WR BEN HAWKINS
The Eagles are mourning the loss of one of the best receivers in franchise history, Ben Hawkins, who passed away Monday at the age of 73.
Originally a third-round draft pick of the organization in 1966, Hawkins spent eight of his nine NFL seasons in Philadelphia, where he played in a total of 102 games (67 starts) from 1966-73.
In the team's record book, Hawkins ranks ninth in receiving TDs (32), 10th in receiving yards (4,764) and 19th in receptions (261). His single-season career high of 1,265 receiving yards in 1967 still stands as the fifth-best mark in team history.
Hawkins later went on to coach in the USFL for the Arizona Outlaws and San Antonio Gunslingers. He is survived by his longtime partner 38 years, Mary Duggan, and two children.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen