PHILADELPHIA – It’s not easy to find much good news on a very bleak injury front for the Eagles, but maybe there was some brightening on Wednesday when safety Rodney McLeod and linebacker Davion Taylor were listed as full participants.
There’s a catch.
Wednesday’s practice was simply a walkthrough, so the injury report the team released was an approximation of who and who didn’t practice.
Left tackle Jordan Mailata (knee) did not practice and given the short week between Monday night’s loss in Dallas to Sunday’s home game against Kansas City could very well miss another game.
The situation doesn’t seem as dire, however, after Andre Mailata stepped against the Cowboys and performed reasonably well.
Listed as limited were Landon Dickerson (hip), Marcus Epps (shoulder), Lane Johnson (ankle), and Jason Kelce (foot, rest).
McLeod’s return would certainly be a lift for a defense that lost defensive Brandon Graham for the season in Week 2 and safety K’Von Wallace for three to six weeks with a shoulder separation.
Taylor’s return could potentially benefit the defense. He was being worked with the first team during training camp while Alex Singleton started camp on the virus list. He was a third-round draft pick last year who has speed and athleticism to play the position but needed to work on his instincts.
Perhaps he would be ready for a role, even though defensive coordinator Johnathan Gannon said, somewhat surprisingly, on Wednesday that he was pleased with the play of his linebackers against Dallas.
“I think that, like as a collective whole, they're doing what we ask them to do,” said Gannon. “They're finishing on the football, they're punching at it. They've been in some passing windows. They're running the defense.
“As far as the communication with the front and the back end, we put a lot on their plate and they're handling it well.”
The DC added, however, that he is still learning their strength and weaknesses and finding roles where they best fit.
“I think you guys will continue to see as we get going the first month to me is kind of about figuring out, all right, what can our guys do, how much can we have on their plate, and we'll start to - as far as when we game plan, see where the production can start coming a little bit more, from everybody,” he said.
It’s been a long time since the Eagles have shown this much trust in their rookie class.
Gannon hasn’t hesitated in playing his group of defenders.
Against Dallas, linebacker Patrick Johnson played a career-high 28 snaps, up from seven in Week 1 and 13 in Week 2 while defensive lineman Milton Williams also reached a career-high in snaps with 47 snaps after getting 31 and 27, respectively in the first two weeks.
Johnson had three tackles; Williams had two assisted stops.
“They're both improving,” said Gannon. “If you look at both of those guys through three games, I actually just talked to Pat about that, they're all in - both of those guys are improving weekly, and that's what you want to see from everybody, not just the rookies, everybody.
“It's not just production-based all the time. Everyone wants to talk about production. It's, ‘Well, this guy didn't have a lot of tackles,’ but did you do your job, and did you play winning football, and both of those guys are doing their job and playing winning football for what we're asking them to do.”
With both starting guards out with injury, head coach Nick Sirianni didn’t want to reveal who would play either right or left guard against the Chiefs.
“We've thought through every different scenario,” said the coach. “At this time, I think it's a competitive advantage for us not to discuss who's going to play where, especially for this week. People will figure out who we're playing where obviously after this week.”
Dickerson played right guard, but that’s a position Nate Herbig is better playing than left guard, so maybe Dickerson flips to left guard this week.
Other possibilities include Sua Opeta and Jack Anderson. Jack Driscoll is on Injured Reserve with a pec strain but is eligible to return if he is fully healthy.
The Eagles added guard Sua Opeta to the 53-man roster.
Opeta was elevated from the practice squad prior to Monday night’s game, but the team opted to fill one of their three roster openings with the second-year undrafted free agent from Weber State.
The Eagles had three openings on their roster prior to adding Opeta, with Graham, Seumalo, and Wallace on IR. Now they have two.
The team also added a pair of players to the practice squad – defensive end Cameron Malveaux and offensive tackle Casey Tucker, who is back for a third stint with Philly.
Malveaux spent last year on the practice squad of the Cleveland Browns, but was active for two games, including against the Eagles, and made four tackles with a forced fumble in his two games.
He was an undrafted free agent of the Dolphins in 2017 and played in 13 games between Miami (nine) and the Cardinals (four).
Finally, the Eagles announced they protected the following players from the practice squad for Sunday’s game: OL Kayode Awosika, WR John Hightower, RB Jordan Howard, and S Elijah Riley.
QUOTE OF THE DAY
“He has every little tool that he needs. Reminds me of the time he was here with DJack, Shady, all the guys that he got a feel for he has right there in Kansas City, so he’s special with guys with speed, who’s little, who can run.
"He’s been a great coach for a long time, and he’s a Hall of Fame coach. He’s great at what he does. We have to do what we have to do to handle them.” – Eagles CB Darius Slay on KC Andy Reid, referring to DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy.
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.