Eagles Missing Two Starters as Prep Begins for Unbeaten Vikings
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The rigors of the NFL season are finally starting to show up in Philadelphia as the Eagles began preparation for the unbeaten Minnesota Vikings Wednesday without two key starters, center Jason Kelce and defensive tackle Bennie Logan.
Kelce is dealing with a painful case of plantar fasciitis in his left foot and was replaced by veteran Stefen Wisniewski in individual drills, although coach Doug Pederson insists that Kelce should be able to go by Sunday against Minnesota’s star nose tackle Linval Joseph, a player USA Today’s Turron Davenport called the strongest in the NFL on Tuesday’s Sports Bash.
Wisniewski was disappointed that the Eagles strayed from their original post-Lane Johnson suspension plan last week of inserting him at left guard and kicking Allen Barbre out to right tackle, instead deciding to start rookie Halapoulivaati Vaitai at RT, a move the team is doubling down on against the powerful Vikings pass rush despite the fact that Vaitai struggled mightily against Washington’s Ryan Kerrigan.
An under-reported aspect of that decision may be the wishes of Jason Peters as an NFL source told 973espn.com that the veteran left tackle was vocal in support of Barbre staying at LG because the two work so well together.
“It is what it is right now,” Pederson said at his Wednesday press conference when asked about Wisniewski’s disappointment in being passed over. “It’s our decision. And we’ve made that decision. And he’s a valuable asset to our team. If Kelce goes down or Barbre or one of the guards go down, he’s the next guy in. ...We’ll just continue to go that route each week.”
Logan, meanwhile, is dealing with a significant left groin strain and has been labeled as week-to-week, although it’s unlikely he will play against the Vikings with veteran Beau Allen, a Minnesota native, will likely start in Logan’s absence.
Also missing practice Wednesday for the Eagles were cornerback Ron Brooks, who is dealing with a calf issue, and defensive end Marcus Smith, who has a right groin strain.
On Monday, Pederson said Brooks and Smith should be OK to go on Sunday.
Cornerback Leodis McKelvin, who has missed three of the past four games with a hamstring problem, was back at practice and banged-up players like Jordan Matthews (knee tendinitis), Rodney McLeod (right shoulder sprain), Mychal Kendricks (rib contusion) and Bryan Braman (shoulder) all were able to participate.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen