Jones is Ready to Return in New Orleans
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The time has come for Sidney Jones to prove what just about every personnel department in the NFL thought before a torn Achilles' derailed his destiny as a top-15 pick in the 2017 draft.
Jones has the talent to be a CB1 in the league and a redshirt rookie season featuring one meaningless late-season cameo against Dallas was amped up into a regular role at the start of the 2018 season as the Eagles' slot cornerback in nickel situations.
The University of Washington product spent six games in that spot until a hamstring injury cost Jones the past three contests.
During that time the starting outside cornerbacks have both been injured with Jalen Mills suffering a foot injury that will keep him out of Sunday's game in New Orleans and Ronald Darby losing the rest of the season to a torn ACL against the Cowboys last week.
In other words, with Jones finally ready to return, the landscape has changed and the talented young CB will likely be needed on the outside, the ultimate end game after he was drafted with the 43rd overall pick in April of 2017.
While Jim Schwartz is never giving out game plan details, the logical assumption is that Jones and fellow second-year corner Rasul Douglas will be on the outside while rookie Avonte Maddox handles slot duties.
That means Jones, who has 23 tackles and two pass breakups on the season, could see a steady diet of Michael Thomas, arguably the top outside receiver in the NFL this season with 78 receptions for 950 yards and seven touchdowns in just nine games.
Jones isn't worried about potentially moving outside the numbers, however.
"At the end of the day, you play man coverage out here and just lock your guy up," Jones explained. "At the end of the day, that's all it comes down to."
In other injury news Coach Doug Pederson said Friday that he expected right tackle Lane Johnson to play after missing last week against Dallas with what is believed to be a Grade II MCL sprain.
"He's a lot closer," Pederson said. "He's had a really good week of practice. Feels a lot better health-wise, so I would expect him to go, yes."
Also, there is the potential for the returns of both defensive tackle Tim Jernigan and tight end Richard Rodgers.
"Still optimistic," Pederson said of Jernigan, who is coming back from offseason bac surgery. "We gotta get through today and tomorrow with him and kind of see where he's at."
Pederson did note that Jernigan has been mixing in with the first-team defense next to Fletcher Cox on the interior while Rodgers is in much the same boat is expected to play at some point as the replacement for Joshua Perkins, who is out with a significant knee injury.
Both Jernigan, who is on the NFI list, and Rodgers, who is on IR/designated to return after a knee injury in the preseason, will need to be added to the roster if they get the all clear and the Eagles still need to move Darby to IR with his season-ending injury while Perkins is also a likely candidate for that designation.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen