Eagles CB Situation is Dire
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - While Doug Pederson continued to play the day-to-day card with his ailing cornerbacks Friday morning, the most likely scenario is that the Eagles will be squaring off against Odell Beckham Jr. and the New York Giants Sunday without their top five options at the position.
Ronald Darby is out for the season with a torn ACL and Sidney Jones had been labeled week-to-week by the coach earlier with a second hamstring injury before being ruled out on Friday.
The others -- Jalen Mills (foot), Rasul Douglas (knee), and Avonte Maddox (knee)-- did not practice on Wednesday, were estimated to be out on Thanksgiving Day when the players were given off, and were again absent in the small portion of the Friday session open to the media.
Mills and Maddox were ultimately ruled out on Friday and Douglas was listed as questionable.
If Douglas is unable to go Jim Schwartz will be down to Nos. 6 through 8 on his cornerback depth chart, almost unprecedented attrition even in a league where injuries are part of life.
"Injuries are a funny thing," Schwartz said earlier this week. "I mean, you can never plan for them. You have to react to them. Sometimes they go in strings like that. I had a year in Tennessee that late in the season I think we had two defensive starters left out of 11. Those are challenging situations, but, you don't get any -- they don't start you with extra points in the beginning of the game and you don't get any gold stars for performing with fill-in players or backup players, just like nobody grades you on a curve if you stay 100 percent healthy."
"It is what it is," Schwartz continued. "It can be challenging at times, but that's our job."
It's been so challenging that Doug Pederson admitted Friday that Schwartz has had to use receivers like Braxton Miller and Dorren Miller at CB in practice just to get through the sessions.
Three CBs who haven't even been on the 53-man roster for a month -- practice squad promotions Chandon Sullivan and De'Vante Bausby, along with waiver pickup Cre'Von LeBlanc -- will have to be up to speed to deal with weapons like Beckham, Sterling Shephard, Evan Engram and even Saquon Barkley, who catches the football like a receiver.
"Every case is a little bit different," Schwartz surmised. "Some guys that might not have been here, like Cre ‘Von who is new on campus. Other guys like Bausby have been around for two years. Other guys like Sully are rookies that it was really their first chance of playing really Cowboys fourth quarter. Everyone is a little bit different. Just have to every week take what you have and try to find out the best way you think you can perform and win that game. That's our challenge."
For Sullivan, it's been a whirlwind.
"It’s definitely crazy just how fast everything happens," Sullivan said. "I remember the last time we played the Giants, I was watching it at home. I didn’t travel with the team [as a member of the practice squad]."
In a pinch veteran safeties Malcolm Jenkins and Corey Graham, who have CB on their resume from earlier in their careers, could also be used at the position.
"I know they’re young, but it’s a great opportunity for them," Pederson said of his unproven CBs. "We always talk about the next man. And they’re the next men .. The fact is everything matters now, everything counts. It’s a real game. So they have to obviously understand that, step their game up, laser focus like we talk about and be prepared."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen