PHILADELPHIA - Eagles safety Rodney McLeod suffered a torn ACL in his left knee during Sunday's win over the New Orleans Saints and will miss the rest of the 2020 season, according to head coach Doug Pederson.
McLeod, 30, was having a career-year and had played in all 872 defensive snaps this season before suffering the knee injury in the third quarter when blitzing Taysom Hill in the 24-21 triumph. Like many ACL tears, McLeod's was a non-contact injury.
The Eagles' nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, McLeod was second on the team in tackles and one of the defense's biggest playmakers with two fumble recoveries, with one returned for a touchdown, and an interception this season.
He's also considered to be the on-field leader of the secondary and arguably the leader of the entire team when it comes to the organization's off-field altruistic work in the community.
Asked last week how the leadership has been on a team that was limping along at 3-8-1, now 4-8-1 after beating the Saints, McLeod was the first person defensive tackle Malik Jackson pointed to
"I think we can really look at one guy, Rodney McLeod," said Jackson. "This whole time he’s been through these tough losses but he’s still out here in the street trying to get people to vote, he’s trying to do things in the community, feed people, do all this stuff.
"And he has guys helping him. It’s one of those things, through all in all, I think our leadership is understood where we’re at. Understand what we need to do and not only talk about it but work on it. "
In many ways, McLeod took over Malcolm Jenkins' role after interning next to the former Pro Bowl safety during his first four seasons in Philadelphia before Jenkins joined the Saints this offseason.
"Rodney was a big, vocal leader on this team," said Pederson. "I would expect guys like Jalen Mills to step up. I would think guys like Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, guys on defense, even Darius Slay, guys really would rally around that and step up and bring some of these young guys along.
"... I would expect the majority of those guys to really step up now in these next three weeks and pull everybody together."
Jenkins and McLeod met at midfield as captains for the coin toss before Sunday's game.
Back in 2018 McLeod tore the ACL in his right knee and missed most of that season.
He's set to turn 31 this summer and is under contract through the 2021 season with a cap hit of $5.2 million.
The Eagles were ravaged in the defensive backfield as a whole against the Saints, also losing cornerbacks Avonte Maddox to a knee injury and Slay to a concussion, the latter on the same play McLeod went down.
Pederson indicated Maddox will “miss some time,” while Slay is in the concussion protocol keeping his staus up in the air for Sunday's game in Arizona.
When McLeod and Slay exited Mills was moved from safety back to CB opposite newcomer Kevon Seymour with Nickell Robey-Coleman manning the slot. Second-year man Marcus Epps and rookie K'Von Wallace handled the safety duties.
Pederson indicated that he hopes to have safety Grayland Arnold and CB Mike Jacquet back in the lineup against Arizona after both were out vs. the Saints.
Cornerbacks Craig James and Cre'Von LeBlanc, meanwhile, remain on injured reserve and not yet ready to return.
"I'm hopeful that Michael and Grayland, their injuries are a little less than LeBlanc's and Craig James," said Pederson. "I'm hopeful and optimistic those two guys can make a return.
"We will see how the week goes, obviously. We have a couple of days here before we hit the practice field, but I'm optimistic those two guys will be able to at least get out there Wednesday and begin their practice in preparation for Arizona."
John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John every Tuesday and Thursday on "The Middle" with Eytan Shander, Harry Mayes, and Barrett Brooks on SportsMap Radio and PhillyVoice.com. He’s also the host of Extending the Play on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
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