Birds travel west with­out Fletcher Cox

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - SPORTS - By Bob Grotz bgrotz@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @BobGrotz on Twit­ter

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.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS — ALEX BRAN­DON

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.

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