Eagles Move Forward Without Peters and Hicks
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — Using Bill Parcells rules, the Eagles are the best team in the NFL right now and the winless San Francisco 49ers are on the horizon.
That's the good news.
The bad comes with the realization that preparation for the rest of the season began Wednesday knowing neither Jason Peters or Jordan Hicks will be in the lineup moving forward.
"Jason Peters is a rare player," offensive coordinator Frank Reich admitted. "I’ve been around a lot of offensive linemen and Jason Peters is the best offensive lineman I’ve been around."
That's not exactly a guy who is easy to replace bur Reich also stressed that one player doesn't win in this league, even a quarterback playing at an MVP level like Carson Wentz.
The Eagles still haven't committed to a plan although an NFL source told 973espn.com that Lane Johnson will likely remain at right tackle with Halapoulivaati Vaitai staying at left tackle, the same setup when Peters went down against the Washington Redskins in the third quarter on Monday night with a torn ACL and MCL.
The theory there is to keep the status quo at least one position instead of uprooting two not to mention the fact that Johnson has been perhaps the best right tackle in football.
The path forward is far more clear when it comes to Hicks because as Jim Schwartz explained, the Eagles have already played a lot of football without the middle linebacker, who ruptured his Achilles against the 'Skins, due to previous nagging ankle and calf issues.
"We've already played a lot of football without him this year. So it's nothing that we haven't done before," the defensive coordinator said. "Guys will step up into different roles. We've been doing that all season long. We'll miss him on the field for sure. He's the quarterback of our defense [and] provides a great leadership role. But other guys will step up into that. [LB] Nigel [Bradham] has already stepped up into part of that.
"We'll have other, multiple players that will fill -- it won't be one person that will step up and fill. It will be, I guess -- I don't like that word, ‘by committee’ -- but it will be various players that will step in and fill it."
If the past is prologue second-year LB Joe Walker will play the mike role in the base defense while Nigel Bradham and Mychal Kendricks will handle the nickel package. Kendricks was out against Washington with a hamstring problem so Najee Goode teamed with Bradham in the nickel.
"To lose a guy like that, obviously a huge leader and impact on our defense," Bradham said when discussing Hicks. "So it hurts. He works so fard and does everything right, comes to work every day and motivates us every day. And really lead us every day, so it hurts to see him go down."
As far as the communication aspect of Hicks' job, Bradham will be getting the green dot on his helmet no matter the situation, something Schwartz downplayed while also complimenting Bradham for handling the responsibility well.
"Communication in the helmet, I mean, everybody can hear. It's not like that's -- it's not like there's calculators and protractors and everything else that's required for that," Schwartz deadpanned. "I mean, you hear something and you say it again. You could put a tape recorder out there and do it. But in some things, he needs to be able to make calls and some things he doesn't. [Nigel's] done a good job with it. And his leadership is starting to show. He's spreading his wings that way a little bit."
WEDNESDAY NOVACARE NOTES:
-The Eagles worked out Taylor Hart earlier this week. The former defensive lineman tries to make the transition to the O-Line this summer and got high grades, according to Reich.
-Practice squad OT Dillon Gordon praised Peters for helping him with his development. Like Peters, Gordon is a former college tight end trying to make it as an athletic left tackle. According to Gordon, the Eagles have yet to broach the idea of a promotion to replace Peters on the active roster.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen