Birds travel west without Fletcher Cox
PHILADELPHIA » All-Pro defensive tackle Fletcher Cox won’t make the trip to the West Coast for the Eagles’ game with the Los Angeles Chargers this weekend.
Additionally the National Anthem protests could extend into this week. Head coach Doug Pederson said the Eagles will have internal discussions in the coming days over how to proceed.
“We haven’t made a decision yet as to the direction that we’re going to go,” Pederson said. “I know we’re going to have some conversations later today and tomorrow on that.”
Listed out by the Eagles are Cox (calf), defensive tackle Destiny Vaeao (wrist) and safeties Jaylen Watkins (hamstring) and Corey Graham (hamstring). None of them practiced Friday.
The Eagles listed linebacker Jordan Hicks (ankle) and safety Rodney McLeod (hamstring) questionable. Both were limited at practice.
Pederson has his fingers crossed that Cox’s injury won’t linger.
“He’s actually feeling better today, so I don’t think so, personally,” Pederson said. “When I mention day to day, it is day to day with him. He is feeling better though.”
Tim Jernigan and Beau Allen will start at defensive tackle for the Eagles. Veteran edge rushers Vinny Curry and Chris Long can play inside with rookie tackle Elijah Qualls.
“There’s a lot of flexibility here,” Pederson said. “We haven’t made a final decision yet on that.”
The Eagles also could make a roster move to fortify the position.
The immediate concern is the pass rush. The Eagles notched eight sacks with Cox in the lineup in the first two games. When Cox was hurt Sunday, they didn’t sack Giants passer Eli Manning. It wasn’t just Manning getting rid of the ball faster.
“Somebody like Fletcher definitely draws a lot of double teams,” Pederson said. “People slide protection in that direction, and things of that nature. It can affect you a little bit. But if teams don’t do that it, it does free up some of our one-on-one matchups with the defensive line. And I think with our ends and getting pressure there it can help take a little pressure off you.”
The Eagles (2-1) are 1.5 point underdogs versus the Chargers (0-3), who have lost twice by three points or fewer.
Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, 36, has thrown four touchdown passes and four interceptions. Rivers is 2-0 against the Eagles and considerably more explosive than Manning. The Eagles are going to miss Cox.
“It does kind of draw the attention to other places,” said Brandon Graham, who leads the Eagles with 2.52 sacks. “But I think with the guys we’ve got here, it’s going to be a good one. That’s all I can say.”
The Chargers have a big, physical offensive line anchored by veteran tackles Russell Okung and Joe Barksdale. Running back Melvin Gordon (6-1, 207) leads the Chargers in rushing yards and touchdowns.
“We’re going to have to keep our pads down against them,” Graham said. “It looks like they’re trying to be balanced, be 50-50. So we’ve got to make sure we read our keys.”
Keenan Allen leads the Chargers with 19 receptions, one a TD. Travis Benjamin, 37-year-old tight end Antonio Gates and Gordon have the other TD grabs.
The Chargers led the league last year in games lost by seven or fewer points with eight.
*** The Chargers listed Gordon (knee), Barksdale (foot), linebacker Hayes Pullard (knee) and tight end Sean McGrath (foot) questionable. All of them practiced fully Friday.
Wide receiver Mike Evans, the first-round pick out of Clemson, is out with a back injury. The seventh overall selection in the draft hasn’t played a snap yet.
*** Odell Beckham Jr. of the Giants was fined $12,154 for that dog-style TD celebration last week.
Eagles safety Malcolm Jenkins wasn’t fined for clothes-lining Beckham, who celebrated another TD by raising his fist the way Jenkins does during the National Anthem.
*** Eagles rookie kicker Jake Elliott was named the league’s Clutch Performer of the week, as voted by fans.
Elliott nailed a walk-off 61yard field goal to beat the Giants, 27-24.
Not bad for a 22-year-old kid who was on the practice squad of the Bengals a couple of weeks ago.
Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (91), pressuring Washington quarterback Kirk Cousins in Week 1, will miss the Eagles trip to take on the Chargers Sunday with a calf injury.