PHILADELPHIA - The wear and tear of the NFL season is finally catching up to the Eagles, at least a little bit.
Philadelphia, the only undefeated team left in the league at 3-0, officially ruled out running back Boston Scott (rib), and slot cornerback Avonte Maddox (ankle) for Sunday’s game against Doug Pederson and the 2-1 Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Scott news was expected after the veteran running back missed practices on Wednesday and Thursday and head coach Nick Sirianni gave the heads up before Friday’s light practice session at Lincoln Financial Field that Scott again missed.
Trey Sermon, who was picked up off waivers from San Francisco on Sept.1, is expected to be active for the first time as an Eagle.
"I'm really excited. I know they brought me here for a reason,” Sermon told the Eagles website. “... I've been caught up to speed and getting the reps in practice, getting more comfortable with the offensive linemen getting in sync. It's been good for me."
Scott has played 36 offensive snaps (12 per game) over the first three games and has 11 touches (10 runs and 1 reception) so Sermon is surely not in line for a big role behind Miles Sanders and Kenny Gainwell.
In fact, coach Nick Sirianni could simply lean more on his top two runners if he likes, although Sanders was dealing with a hip issue earlier in the week before being listed as a full participant at both Thursday and Friday’s practices.
The far bigger issue is Maddox, who turned his ankle at practice on Thursday, according to a team source.
Maddox is essentially a starter in the team’s slot cornerback position, playing 87% of the defensive snaps over the first three games. The Pitt product is also performing at a very high level, being graded out as No. 6 of the 101 CBs who have played enough to be ranked by Pro Football Focus.
Meanwhile, Jacksonville’s top receiver Christian Kirk, who has 18 receptions for 267 yards and three touchdowns, spends most of his time in the slot.
Kirk, who signed a big-money deal in free agency, has played 198 offensive snaps with 126 of them coming inside so Maddox was set to be tasked with shutting down the shifty receiver who PFF has graded as No. 22 of 103 WRs.
The Eagles could go a number of different ways when it comes to replacing Maddox. The most obvious would just be inserting the fourth CB, second-year man Zech McPhearson, as the slot CB inside of Darius Slay and James Bradberry. Josiah Scott, who also cross-trained at safety this summer, is the listed backup for Maddox and is a natural slot CB.
It should also be noted that before the Eagles acquired Chauncey Gardner-Johnson and moved him to safety, the veteran played slot cornerback for New Orleans and was very effective in that role.
Furthermore, the top backup at safety is K’Von Wallace, who is very familiar with Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence from their time together as teammates at Clemson.
Also, CGJ’s transition to safety hasn’t been without hiccups (PFF has Garner-Johnson graded as No. 64 of 72 safeties through three games). He has, however, played 100% of the defensive snaps the past two weeks. Getting him some confidence with reps at a position he’s more comfortable with could be considered.
“I’m a professional," he said during Thursday's open locker room session. "Not to be disrespectful or anything, they brought me in to do certain things. So I’m going to have fun. Call the defense, call the shots. It’s a whole new position for me. I think I’m filling in well. I think the guys brought me in well, helped me learn.
"... When you’re a professional, you just dive into what you need to focus on. And being here for the past two games, we have the best [defensive] backfield in football.”
From a meritocracy standpoint, Gardner-Johnson is certainly the second-best option the Eagles have in the slot so defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon and secondary coach Dennard Wilson will have to decide if CGJ at safety with McPhearson or Scott in the slot is the better alternative than Gardner-Johnson in the slot and Wallace at safety.
-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's Eagles Today and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen