Some Good, Some Bad on Eagles’ Injury Front
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — The Eagles will be without perhaps their best defensive player when they take off for Los Angeles on Saturday morning.
Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox was officially ruled out for Sunday's game against the 0-3 Los Angeles Chargers with a calf injury suffered during the first half of the Week 3 win over the New York Giants.
An NFL source told 973espn.com earlier this week that the likely timetable for Cox could be two weeks but coach Doug Pederson believes it could be sooner than that.
"He's actually feeling better today," Pederson claimed. "...When I mentioned day-to-day, it's really day-to-day with him. He is feeling better, though, even today."
Cox has not been able to practice all week and one of his potential replacements, second-year DT Destiny Vaeao remains out with a wrist injury as well, meaning Beau Allen will likely start against the Chargers and rookie sixth-round pick Elijah Qualls is the only interior backup.
That could mean both Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry getting reps inside next to Tim Jernigan in obvious passing situations with Chris Long and/or Derek Barnett filling in outside.
"There's a lot of flexibility here," Pederson said. "We haven't made a final decision yet on that. We'll get through today's practice, have a few more conversations with [defensive coordinator) Jim (Schwartz) and (defensive line coach) Chris (Wilson) and go from there."
As for Cox not being there, Pederson understands the hurdles it presents.
"Somebody like Fletcher definitely draws a lot of double teams, people slide protection that direction, things of that nature," the coach said. "And so it can affect you a little bit. But at the same time, if teams now don't do that, it does free up some of our one-on-one match-ups with the defensive line. I think with our ends and getting pressure there sometimes can help sort of take a little pressure off -- even when Fletcher is in there, these guys have been able to take some pressure off of Fletcher, and the next guy, Beau Allen and Tim Jernigan and these guys are really going to have to step up and fill that gap, and they've done a nice job."
Also ruled out for the Eagles on Friday with hamstring injuries were defensive backs Corey Graham and Jaylen Watkins. The good news is that the third of the "hamstrung trio," safety Rodney McLeod should be back, enabling Chris Maragos, who started against the Giants, to go back to his more familiar role on special teams.
"It's real comforting knowing that you don't have to move so many pieces now having him back there," Pederson said of McLeod's return to the lineup. "I thought first of all Maragos did a nice job last week stepping up and playing, and now he can go back to special teams, being that backup safety, and that role that he's comfortable in, as well."
In other positive injury news, middle linebacker Jordan Hicks was listed as questionable but practiced for a third straight day and is expected to play.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen