Eagles Lose Brooks for Season
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - A year ago many of the Eagles thought they were a right guard away from a repeat trip to the NFC Championship Game, a nod to the fact that Brandon Brooks went down with a torn Achilles' early in the divisional-round loss in New Orleans.
Brooks made an amazing recovery and was ready to go for Week 1 of the 2109 regular season, quickly returning to his status as one of the best guards in the NFL.
For much of the season, ProFootballFocus.com went one further and graded Brooks as the best offensive linemen in the league regardless of position and the veteran was rewarded with a four-year, $54.2 million extension back in November that runs through 2024.
If Philadelphia is going to make a run in this year's postseason they will have to do so without Brooks, who suffered a dislocated shoulder in the second quarter of Sunday's 34-17 NFC East-clinching win over the New York Giants, an injury that will require surgery and shut down Brooks for the remainder of the season.
“He had the separated right shoulder during the game on the PAT,” coach Doug Pederson said. “He suffered a little more damage in there, so he is actually going to miss the remainder of the season.”
Matt Pryor finished up at RG for the Eagles against the Giants but the plan for Sunday's Wild Card Weekend game against Seattle likely is tied to the health of Brooks' best friend and All-Pro teammate Lane Johnson at right tackle.
Johnson missed the final three games of the regular season with a high ankle sprain and could be ready to return against the Seahawks. If that's the case Halapoulivaati Vaitai, who has done yeoman work as Johnson's replacement at RT, would kick inside to RG. If Johnson is unavailable Philadelphia would keep Vaitai outside and move forward with Pryor at RG.
Rookie first-round pick Andre Dillard is likely not an option because he struggled so mightily in his one start at right tackle earlier in the season.
The Eagles also lost backup defensive end Daeshon Hall to a torn ACL on the final play against the Giants.
"The only other report I can put out there is Daeshon Hall, last play of the game, ACL,” Pederson said. “He’s done for the year. It is unfortunate.”
The injury news was better for running back Miles Sanders, who exited the game in North Jersey due to a second-quarter ankle injury, and cornerback Avonte Maddox, who also was banged-up.
“Miles Sanders first, lower body, the ankle. He’s going to be day-to-day. He should be OK," Pederson explained. "Got good news on him, same with Avonte. It’s a physical sport but both of those guys are tough guys and should be OK."
The murkiness continued on Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz, however. Reports surfaced that Ertz has a lacerated kidney, along with a broken rib suffered in Week 16 against Dallas but Pederson would not confirm the kidney issue, something that would surely cost Ertz any playoff run whether it lasts a week or into February.
“Ertz is another one that we’re going to monitor each day," Pederson said. "This week we can incorporate him back into practice and see where he’s at the end of the week and make a decision then.”
As for wide receiver DeSean Jackson, Pederson kept the door open that the veteran receiver could return from a core muscle injury if the Eagles reach the divisional round of the postseason. Jackson is not eligible to return from injured reserve until that point.
“He’s getting close. We’re still going to monitor him," Pederson said of Jackson. "He’s been running on land, trending in the right direction. We’ll see where he is at the end of the week before we make that decision. He’s not eligible until we activate him.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen