Eagles Have ‘Plan’ at Defensive Tackle
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The Eagles have a "plan" at defensive tackle for Sunday's game against Carolina but Doug Pederson wasn't about to tip Panthers offensive coordinator Norv Turner off to what it is.
Absent All-Pro Fletcher Cox handling both interior positions on his own the plan is patently obvious, however. It likely involves Haloti Ngata being healthy enough to play after missing two games with a calf injury and handling 20-to-30 snaps as a two-down player before Michael Bennett and Brandon Graham split the rotation inside during passing situations.
After Philadelphia waived/injured Destiny Vaeao on Tuesday many took the leap that perhaps Tim Jernigan was close to returning after offseason back surgery for a herniated disc.
That, however, is not the case and while Pederson said Jernigan is "progressing" there was little optimism to indicate the Florida State product would be on the practice field anytime soon.
"I'm not going to disclose the plan. Obviously in lieu of the game and game week and all that but there is a plan," Pederson said. I've talked to [defensive coordinator] Jim [Schwartz] and [defensive line coach] Chris [Wilson] and we feel comfortable with that plan.
... I would say that Ngata is getting close. Day-to-day still. Getting better and we will see where he is at this week. Tim just keeps progressing. We're hopeful and optimistic but at the same time we want to make sure he's healthy."
Treyvon Hester, who was recently promoted from the practice squad, is also in the equation as an early-down player, especially if Ngata can't go.
"He's a big part [of the defense] and we brought him in to fill a role and need and we will continue to progress with him each and every week," Pederson said of Hester.
On the offensive side of the ball, it sure sounds as if left tackle Jason Peters is going to play despite suffering a torn biceps against the New York Giants last week.
Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland intimated that on Monday and Pederson doubled down before practice Wednesday.
"He's doing fine and he will practice today," Pederson said when discussing Peters. "There's something there. He can definitely play. There is no concern with injuring him any further or anything like that [We] have all the confidence in the world in him and he'll be ready to go."
As for other injuries Pederson continued to list running back Darren Sproles and safety Corey Graham as day-to-day with hamstring injuries, although it seems like Sproles is closer to returning.
Sidney Jones, meanwhile, is "week-to-week" with his own hamstring and unlikely to play against Carolina which is why cornerback Dexter McDougle was brought back on Tuesday.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen