Ea­gles bit­ten by the in­jury bug in loss.

WRs Jack­son and Jef­fery, DT Jerni­gan among those ail­ing

The Morning Call - - SPORTS - By Andy Schwartz Morn­ing Call sports di­rec­tor Andy Schwartz can be reached at as­[email protected] or 610508-1501.

First things first.

No in­jury up­dates. Not of­fi­cial ones from the team, any­way.

Ea­gles head coach Doug Ped­er­son said at his press con­fer­ence Mon­day he got back from At­lanta at 4 a.m. and watched film and hadn’t yet had his med­i­cal meet­ing.

To re­view, Ea­gles in­jured Sun­day against At­lanta are wide re­ceivers Al­shon Jef­fery (calf ) and DeSean Jack­son (groin), tight end Dal­las Goed­ert (calf ), de­fen­sive tackle Tim Jerni­gan (foot) and run­ning back Corey Cle­ment (shoul­der).

Ped­er­son in­di­cated Jack­son, Jef­fery and Goed­ert may have tried to “gut it out” had it been a play­off game, “but it’s hard to say.”

Ped­er­son also said he has a “gut” feel­ing Jerni­gan’s in­jury could be the most se­ri­ous. Jerni­gan wore a boot on his left foot af­ter the game, and there are con­flict­ing re­ports about his prog­no­sis.

Pro Foot­ball Talk re­ported it’s a bro­ken foot and Jerni­gan is “feared to be out for the year,” but NFL Net­work’s Ian Rapoport re­ported Jerni­gan could miss “roughly a month.” Rapoport said Jef­fery has a strained calf, which isn’t ma­jor but could keep him out the next two games; the Ea­gles play the Lions on Sun­day and the Pack­ers four days later.

Rapoport also said Cle­ment likely will miss a week or two, call­ing it an “early read,” so don’t put that in stone.

Deja vu: The Ea­gles’ slow starts of­fen­sively have been an is­sue since last sea­son, and these in­juries didn’t help.

Goed­ert did not play. He was ac­tive but eval­u­ated be­fore the game and held out with an in­jury that trou­bled him in train­ing camp. Jef­fery played six snaps in Sun­day’s loss to the Fal­cons and Jack­son 11.

None of the three en­tered the game on the in­jury re­port.

“It af­fects it a lot,” Ped­er­son said. “If you were to look at my call sheet this morn­ing, you would see a lot of scratch-outs on plays and dif­fer­ent things.”

And, Ped­er­son said, if you watch the game, you’ll see the veter­ans, and specif­i­cally Zach Ertz and Nel­son Agholor, di­rect­ing traf­fic.

“Zach is telling guys where to go. Nelly is telling — we’re mov­ing guys,” Ped­er­son said. “Our pieces are mov­ing and we’re putting guys in po­si­tions that didn’t prac­tice in those po­si­tions dur­ing the week, and [we] still had a chance at the end of the game.”

The Ea­gles would have had a bet­ter chance at the end had they been able to score at the be­gin­ning, a prob­lem that dates back to last sea­son. They scored the fewest points in the league in the first quar­ter last sea­son (41) and failed to score in the first quar­ter in 10 games.

They’re one of five teams this sea­son that is score­less in the first quar­ter.

Who’s to blame? The play­caller, not the play­ers.

“I just have to find the mag­i­cal plays,” Ped­er­son said. “It’s al­ways the plays. That’s on me. I have to do a bet­ter job.”

Deja vu II: The Ea­gles were with­out two of their top re­ceivers and their promis­ing sec­ondyear tight end. Did they de­cide to rely on the run? Nope.

They at­tempted 21 rushes (three for Wentz) and 51 passes (48 throws and three sacks).

Goed­ert’s loss cer­tainly didn’t help from a block­ing stand­point as Ertz be­came the lone tight end. Miles San­ders and Jor­dan Howard — the only backs to at­tempt a rush — com­bined for 46 yards on 18 car­ries (2.6 yards per carry).

Plus, the Fal­cons, Ped­er­son said, were go­ing to be tougher to run on than the Red­skins. In Week 1’s win over Wash­ing­ton, Ea­gles RBs rushed for 118 yards, av­er­ag­ing 4.4 yards per at­tempt.

“We strug­gled to run the ball, some­thing we kind of pride our­selves on,” he said. “We were go­ing to try to run and try to es­tab­lish it, and we strug­gled a lit­tle bit there. We have to make those correction­s. That’s a big part, too, with a lot of the per­son­nel changes, with tight ends and things like that, that got us a lit­tle bit away from it. I’m not go­ing to make an ex­cuse, but it does af­fect it just a lit­tle bit.”

Spark­ing San­ders: San­ders in two games has 21 rushes for 53 yards and no touch­downs, al­though he did have a 21-yard TD against Wash­ing­ton erased by a penalty, which the NFL ad­mit­ted was a mis­take.

The rookie sec­ond-round pick av­er­aged just 2.8 yards per at­tempt Sun­day night, and Ped­er­son ad­mit­ted San­ders “missed a cou­ple of holes” and needs to re­al­ize some­times it’s bet­ter to go straight ahead and gain a few yards in­stead of try­ing to take it out­side and turn the cor­ner.

“There are some things that he can get bet­ter,” Ped­er­son said, “but our con­fi­dence in him is re­ally high, ex­tremely high, and we are go­ing to con­tinue to play him and get him the reps.”

Nelly’s drop: Agholor against At­lanta caught 8 of his 11 tar­gets for 107 yards and a touch­down. But the one miss may have cost the Ea­gles the game.

Ped­er­son said he spoke with Agholor be­fore they got on the bus to the air­port and said he “played re­ally well,” es­pe­cially given that he had to play two po­si­tions be­cause of in­juries to Jef­fery and Jack­son.

“It just shows his men­tal ca­pac­ity with the of­fense and where he is. He made some out­stand­ing catches yes­ter­day,” Ped­er­son said. “I told him af­ter the game, one play is not go­ing to de­fine him or our sea­son. It’s Week 2 in the Na­tional Foot­ball League, and we have a bunch of foot­ball left, and he’s a great player for us. I told him just to keep his head up, keep work­ing, and we’re go­ing to find more ways to win these games than lose them go­ing into the fu­ture.”

That’s the rule: Re­gard­less of whether Wentz slid or dove into the end zone on the two-point con­ver­sion at­tempt in the third quar­ter, he was seen as giv­ing him­self up. Pre­vi­ously, if a QB went head first, he could be treated like any other po­si­tion player and be hit, and if he used a baseball slide, he wasn’t to be touched.

Now both are treated the same, which is why Wentz didn’t score on the con­ver­sion. His knee hit be­fore the ball crossed the goal line, so he was down, re­gard­less of whether he made con­tact with a de­fender.

“We just have to be aware, if you can, keep your knee up,” Ped­er­son said. “That’s just the rule.”


The Ea­gles’ Al­shon Jef­fery was one of sev­eral play­ers in­jured in Sun­day night’s loss to the Fal­cons.

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