The Eagles’ lineup for Sunday night’s game officially came into focus on Saturday, and the news is about what was speculated.
Jason Peters is back at left tackle and, with Lane Johnson healthy enough to start – and, the Eagles hope, finish – at right tackle, Jordan Mailata has been sent to the bench after four starts in Peters’ place.
Peters was activated from IR along with tight end Dallas Goedert, receiver Jalen Reagor, linebacker T.J. Edwards, and safety/special team standout Rudy Ford.
All in all, the Eagles are slowly getting healthy again just in time for the second half of the season.
“You talk about getting guys back, me being in the league now going on five years, the biggest thing that I have learned is injuries are going to happen,” said safety Jalen Mills earlier in the week. “With that being said, selfishly, you would actually want them to happen earlier in the season, and you get your guys back on the back end, rather than have guys hurt later in the season.
“Then you’re trying to go into the postseason (like last year) and different things like that, and now you’re playing with guys who don’t really have a lot of game experience. When you got guys who get injured earlier, you got guys who have to step up, so you’re gaining more people who have more game experience just in case something does happen. Like I said on the back end, you get starters and additional players back.”
The Eagles had four open roster spots for the five returning players, so they had to release tight end Hakeem Butler.
Additionally, the team also promoted cornerback Michael Jacquet and defensive tackle Raequan Williams from the practice squad. Both are undrafted rookie free agents and will make their NFL debuts.
With Hassan Ridgeway on season-ending IR with a bicep injury, the team needed some depth on the D-line. T.Y. McGill had gotten in to two games earlier this season, so the expectation was that it would be McGill again who got the call from the practice squad.
Instead, it was the 6-4, 305-pound Williams from Michigan State.
“Rae’s been great,” said defensive line coach Matt Burke earlier in the week. “We’re very excited with him. Obviously, he’s a great worker, just enthusiastic, great to be around every day, takes great notes. He’s a guy that we’re very excited about his future.
“In terms of contribution, that’s not my world in terms of roster construction. We’ve been working with Rae every day. He has an edge to him. He plays tough. He’s really been developing day after day after day. So, I’m very pleased where is his on his track and what we’re doing with him.”
Burke didn’t know when he spoke with the media that Williams would be the call-up.
“I think Rae’s going to put himself in a position to be successful and do what we’re asking him to do,” said Burke. “I’m excited for him to keep on the track that he’s on. He’s been good. He does a lot of work for us day in and day out, at practice, and individual, he stays after and comes early.
“All that stuff you’re ever want from a young player, he’s doing. If an opportunity arises for him to contribute, I think he’ll make sure he’s ready to do so.”
Jacquet could see time with the Eagles entering the game a bit light on the corner. Though they will welcome Avonte Maddox back to the starting lineup, they will be without Cre’Von LeBlanc and Craig James, who were ruled out with injuries on Friday.
The defense will get a boost with the return of Edwards, especially with Nate Gerry being put on IR.
While the defensive tackles are calling in reinforcements, the offensive tackles are back to what they were supposed to be when the team broke training camp and after Andre Dillard’s season-ending bicep injury in August.
That’s bad news for Mailata, though he could still see the field if Johnson is unable to finish due to his constantly swelling ankle combined with a knee issue.
Peters’ return may not be a bad thing, though he wasn’t playing great before a toe injury landed him on IR after Week 3.
One of the strengths for the Cowboys’ defense is the defensive ends, with DeMarcus Lawrence and Aldon Smith, who leads Dallas in sacks with four.
Being a veteran of 17 seasons, and with fresh legs after a month off, Peters could match up well against either one of the Cowboys’ pass rushers.
The offense will have more weapons with Reagor and Goedert back.
Quarterback Carson Wentz will now have Goedert and Richard Rodgers as his tight ends, with Reagor, Travis Fulgham, Greg Ward, John Hightower, and, presumably, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside as his pass-catchers.
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