Mad­dox out but not down

The Morning Call (Sunday) - - SPORTS - By Tom Moore

PHILADEL­PHIA — Avonte Mad­dox won’t be back in the Ea­gles’ sec­ondary Mon­day night against Wash­ing­ton.

Mad­dox’s knee and an­kle aren’t quite where they need to be. The in­jury stems from land­ing awk­wardly in the end zone dur­ing the first quar­ter against the Saints on Nov. 18.

“Next week,” Mad­dox said, re­fer­ring to the Dec. 9 game at Dal­las. “I’m get­ting bet­ter.”

Make no mis­take — the Ea­gles miss him.

The Birds’ sec­ondary in last week’s 25-22 come-from-be­hind vic­tory over the Gi­ants fea­tured such house­hold names as Tre Sul­li­van, Chan­don Sul­li­van and Cre’Von LeBlanc. They could’ve used Mad­dox at cor­ner­back and/or safety.

Mad­dox, a rookie fourthround pick out of Pitt, went from only play­ing on spe­cial teams, where he con­tin­ues to stand out, in the first three games to be­ing on the field for 317 of a pos­si­ble 319 de­fen­sive snaps (99 per­cent) in the five weeks prior to the loss at New Or­leans.

Even more im­pres­sive was that he played free safety, a po­si­tion he had never tried un­til prac­tice lead­ing up to Week 4, for all 62 de­fen­sive plays in Week 5 against the Vik­ings.

It was de­fen­sive backs coach Cory Undlin’s idea to try Mad­dox at free safety ahead of the more ex­pe­ri­enced Corey Graham, which proved to be a good fit for Mad­dox’s skill set.

“Avonte gave us the best re­place­ment for Rod­ney [McLeod],” Undlin told re­porters. “He’s got great range. He’s fast [and] re­ally, re­ally smart back there. He’s got great aware­ness.”

Mad­dox be­gan the first Gi­ants game as the free safety, then switched to slot cor­ner for the fi­nal 45 de­fen­sive snaps when Sid­ney Jones hurt his ham­string.

The 5-foot-9, 184-pound Mad-

dox re­mained at free safety dur­ing the next two weeks be­fore re­turn­ing to cor­ner­back ver­sus the Cow­boys.

“I no­ticed his speed and tough­ness im­me­di­ately,” said McLeod, whose sea­son-end­ing Week 3 knee in­jury al­lowed Mad­dox to get on the field. “He’s been great.

“Just like that, he’s asked to step in and be a starter and play all these dif­fer­ent roles for us.

For a rookie, com­ing into this league, he’s han­dled ev­ery­thing that he’s been asked to do well. He’s a good lis­tener, he’s coach­able and, most im­por­tantly, he’s go­ing to work his butt off.”

Known mostly for his cov­er­age skills at Pitt, Mad­dox said he doesn’t have a po­si­tional pref­er­ence.

“I just go out and play.” Mad­dox said Satur­day af­ter­noon at the No­vaCare Com­plex. “I call my­self a DB. I can play cen­ter­field [free safety]. I can play in the mid­dle in the slot. If they need me at cor­ner, [I can do that]. It don’t mat­ter.

I’ll do what­ever they need me to do.”

Mad­dox cred­its vet­er­ans McLeod and Mal­colm Jenk­ins for their tute­lage and chal­leng­ing him by “[putting] a lot on my plate be­cause they know what it’s like on the field.”

His high­lights in­clude re­turn­ing an in­ter­cep­tion 23 yards at Ten­nessee to set up a field goal, forc­ing a fum­ble that Jenk­ins re­cov­ered against the Jaguars, and reg­is­ter­ing seven tack­les ver­sus the Vik­ings and Cow­boys.

The 5-6 Ea­gles are ex­pected to get Jones (ham­string) and

Ra­sul Dou­glas (an­kle, knee) back Mon­day. Still, McLeod (knee) and cor­ner­back Ron­ald Darby (torn ACL) have been lost for the sea­son, while cor­ner­back Jalen Mills (foot) and Mad­dox re­main out.

How dec­i­mated was the sec­ondary last week? The Ea­gles’ de­fen­sive backs that com­bined for 291 snaps against Min­nesota ac­counted for just 65 against the Gi­ants. Mad­dox could only watch and lament what he might’ve been.

“I ain’t never seen noth­ing like that,” Mad­dox said. “It’s a good thing we got a cou­ple guys

back. It’ll be bet­ter for us.”

It’ll be even bet­ter for the Birds when Mad­dox plays again.

Pre­dic­tion: Wash­ing­ton 21, Ea­gles 20

In­jury up­dates

Ruled out for Mon­day night’s game are LB Jor­dan Hicks (calf), Mad­dox (an­kle, knee) and Mills (foot). Those three and T Ja­son Peters (not in­jury re­lated/per­sonal) did not prac­tice again Satur­day.

Rookie RB Josh Adams (hip) and DE Michael Ben­nett (foot) are listed as ques­tion­able and lim­ited prac­tice par­tic­i­pants. It’s un­clear what hap­pened with Adams, who showed up on the in­jury re­port Satur­day for the first time dur­ing the week.

Run­ning back Dar­ren Spro­les (ham­string) is also ques­tion­able de­spite be­ing a full par­tic­i­pant Satur­day.

LB Nigel Brad­ham (thumb), G Bran­don Brooks (an­kle), Dou­glas (an­kle, knee), DT Tim Jerni­gan (illness), Jones (ham­string) and Sul­li­van (shoul­der) prac­ticed with­out re­stric­tion.

BUTCH DILL/AP

Ea­gles free safety Avonte Mad­dox, seen here af­ter be­ing in­jured in the Nov. 18 game against the Saints, will miss Mon­day’s game against Wash­ing­ton.

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