Darius Slay Returning, But Eagles Could be Without Some Key Players Heading to Dallas

In what amounts to a possible elimination game, Philadelphia may be without its best D-lineman and, without a true punter, may have to turn to kicker Jake Elliott
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It’s not ideal for the Eagles that, in what amounts to a possible elimination game Sunday in Dallas, they may be without two top defensive linemen, kicker Jake Elliott could be the punter, and a linebacker who has one of their five interceptions this season is out.

Start with Fletcher Cox. The DT who was just named to his sixth straight Pro Bowl team is listed as questionable with a neck injury. 

Defensive end Derek Barnett is also listed as questionable with a calf injury. 

Cox and Barnett have accounted for 12 sacks for the Eagles this season.

Linebacker Duke Riley, who had a key interception against the win over the New Orleans Saints two weeks ago, has been ruled out with a bicep injury.

Riley isn't the only one who will miss Sunday's game.

Cornerback Kevon Seymour, who only joined the lineup two games ago after not being with a team for nearly two years, was also ruled out with a knee injury as was defensive end Josh Sweat (wrist), and tight end Richard Rodgers (ankle).

The Eagles need to win and hope Washington loses to Carolina, in order to head into Week 17 with something to play for, which would be a second straight NFC East title.

The Eagles will get some help back in the secondary with the return of Darius Slay, who missed last week’s game with a concussion.

Slay’s return is vital for any hopes the Eagles have of keeping their season alive since he will likely travel with Cowboys receiver Amari Cooper. Slay was instrumental in holding Cooper to only one catch for five yards on five targets.

Of course, the quarterback in that 23-9 win over Dallas on Nov. 1 was Ben DiNucci. This time, it will be Andy Dalton. Still, not Dak Prescott, but Dalton is better than DiNucci, and the veteran QB has other weapons aside from Cooper to throw to, including rookie CeeDee Lamb and Michael Gallup.

“We just did what we had to do, play ball and compete,” said Slay about his last matchup against Cooper. “Obviously, he didn’t have his guy, Dak, so I would never credit myself with him because I want to compete against the best and he didn’t have his best. He’s a talented guy and I look forward to always battling against him. He gets me better every day, and my goal is to get him better. I’m looking forward to the matchup.”

Then there’s Cameron Johnston. The punter suffered a concussion last week in Arizona after having a punt blocked for the first time in his career, and, while limited during Thursday's practice, he was listed as a full participant on Friday.

Still, he must clear some further concussion obstacles in order to be ready to punt against the Cowboys.

If he cannot, it would appear Elliott will get the call.

Asked earlier in the week if it would be Elliott handling punting duties, head coach Doug Pederson said there was a plan in place, then said that Elliott did a good job on his two punts against the Cardinals.

“I think where it really pertains maybe a little bit more is your extra points and things like that,” said Pederson. “Maybe you go for two a time or two more. We've been through this before actually in the Cowboy game a couple of years ago and actually lost our kicker in that game and made it through (with linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill, now with the Dolphins), so there's a plan in place, but I'm hopeful that Cam makes it through, and we get him for the game.”

Pederson has a point since Johnston is the holder on field goals and PATs. Zach Ertz was the emergency punter last week, so he would likely be the holder again if Johnston cannot make it to game time.

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