Jason Peters Can Return to Practice
PHILADELPHIA - The three certainties of life these days seem to be death, taxes, and an Eagles offensive line injury.
Rewinding to Thursday night's comeback win over the New York Giants and star right tackle Lane Johnson was the repeat customer, adding Grade 1 MCL sprain in his left knee, per sources, to his balky left ankle which has already bounced him in and out of the lineup due to swelling from a "tightrope" surgery in August.
Maybe the toughest guy on film since John Wayne, the Eagles right tackle plans to play Sunday night against crumbling Dallas after what amounted to a mini-bye week for Philadelphia, although Johnson's status during practice this week will be something to keep an eye on as well the Eagless stockpile of Toradol.
“Gotta see where Lane is next week,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said on Friday before the Eagles took the weekend for themselves.
The rest of the group is coming off a poor performance against the Giants with the left side struggling mightily.
Jordan Mailata had his worst game since taking over for the injured Jason Peters and the weekly newcomer, Sua Opeta at left guard, struggled in his first NFL start, too often being put on skates by a talented and underrated New York front.
Even All-Pro center Jason Kelce had his worst game of the season as a pass protector and also the out of character personal-foul flag that nearly cost Philadelphia the game before the Carson Wentz-to-Boston Scott heroics.
The final piece, right guard Nate Herbig, was serviceable as he continued to ping-pong back and forth between the guard positions. Johnson, meanwhile, was the best player on the line but his replacement, Matt Pryor, fresh off the reserve-COVID-19 list and the safety net because rookie Jack Driscoll was out with his own ankle injury, couldn't hold up as well, to no one's surprise, after replacing Johnson early in the fourth quarter.
The indicators weren't good. Wentz was sacked three more times to run his league-high total to 28 and the running backs averaged under 3.4 yards-per-clip without Miles Sanders to lean on.
The Pro Football Focus numbers were also unsatisfactory.
Mailata had a season-worst grade which was below replacement-level, Opeta was just slightly better, Kelce had his worst pass-pro grade of 2020, and Herbig and the slightly-less injured version of Johnson were satisfactory but nothing special.
Former Eagles team president Joe Banner recently told the Philadelphia Inquirer that Howie Roseman has been asking around for offensive line help in advance of the Nov. 3 trade deadline but in an O-Line deficient league you're not getting difference makers in early November.
More so, the competent options on the market, like Minnesota's Riley Reiff, are salary dumps and the Eagles are not equipped to take on salary right now.
The reinforcements have to come from inside the organization and it likely starts with the 38-year old Peters, who seems close to returning from a toe/foot injury. Peters was among four players the Eagles started 21-day practice windows on Monday, a group that also included two players expected to return against the Cowboys: linebacker T.J. Edwards and special-teams stalwart Rudy Ford.
Rookie receiver Jalen Reagor was also activated into the 21-day practice window.
When Pederson talked about players like Edwards and Ford potentially returning on Sunday night, the coach also mentioned Peters "is probably in that boat."
Which brings to mind at what position would Peters return?
Before Andre Dillard tore his biceps in training camp, Peters was penciled in at RG and once the soap opera of him moving back to LT with a slight pay bump, Peters wasn't exactly playing lights out before the injury and if Father Time had not caught Peters he was certainly closer than he appeared in the rear-view mirror.
Take out the Giants game and the best path forward might have been keeping the Mailata at LT and sliding Peters back to RG and Herbig over to LG.
Now everything is on the table.
"I think when J.P. comes back, I think that's a conversation we'll have internally to see what's best for the football team," said Pederson. "Whether it's he and Herbig and Sua Opeta now, guard rotation, or is it J.P. back at left tackle. Those are options we have, which we haven't had many options lately. It gives us I think the best availability for these players for our offensive line moving forward."
Another name to keep in mind is starting LG Isaac Seumalo, who suffered a Week 2 knee injury that Pederson said would keep him out for a lengthy period but refused to call a season-ending injury. That potential return is not imminent, however.
The final hands-on-deck are developmental players like OT Brett Toth, recently brought back on waivers from Arizona, and undrafted center Luke Juriga, as well as practice-squad rookie tackle Prince Tega Wanogho.
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 email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
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