Latest Jones injury could spell the end
PHILADELPHIA — Without coming right out and saying it, Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson certainly hinted Wednesday that oft-injured cornerback Sidney Jones might be approaching the end of his rope.
Jones missed all but one game of his rookie season in 2017 while recovering from a torn Achilles tendon suffered during his pro day at Washington, then missed most of last season with a recurring hamstring issue.
This year, he appears to be headed down the same path as 2018 after leaving the Green Bay game early with a hamstring strain and not playing at all last Sunday against the New York Jets despite being dressed for the game. Jones was a full participant in practice Wednesday but was listed on the team’s first injury report of the week.
“From a player’s standpoint, I think you sort of have to push yourself … through that and feel that level of comfort,” Pederson said. “Everybody’s built a little differently. The body gets tugged and pulled in different ways, and we do everything we can through our medical staff to keep them healthy.”
Pederson wouldn’t say he was displeased that Jones doesn’t seem to have a higher pain threshold, but he didn’t seem OK with it either.
“I think sometimes with an injury, I don’t care what type of injury, you get to the point where just through your rehab and conditioning you have to push yourself,” Pederson said. “You have to bust through and say, ‘OK, I feel good. I still might be a little sore, but I feel good.’
“That’s what I mean by that — that threshold where you kind of break through the glass and you’re on the other side of it. And then once you get to that point, all the mental stuff goes away and now you can just focus on ball again.”
That’s something Jones hasn’t been able to do for basically his entire pro career, which is in its third year.
Jones’ latest injury comes at the worst possible time. Jalen Mills (foot, PUP) and Cre’Von LeBlanc (foot-IR) haven’t been available at all, and Ronald Darby (hamstring) and Avonte Maddox (neck) were injured in Week 4 and remain out indefinitely.
That’s forced the Eagles to turn to the likes of Craig James, Orlando Scandrick and Ryan Lewis, who all were on the street for at least part of this season, to play alongside Rasul Douglas and hope that Jones, drafted 43rd overall in 2017, can contribute again.
At the time, the Eagles thought they had a steal when they drafted Jones, who had a first-round grade but fell into the second round because of his injury. Now he’s closer to being labeled a bust than an actual value — and his coach might not even disagree.
RB rotation: The Eagles are sending out mixed messages about running backs Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard and who might get the ball the most and everything else.
Pederson on Monday did hint that Howard, who leads the team in rushing yards (248) and yards per attempt (4.7), has merited more involvement in the offense. But by Wednesday, he wasn’t so sure.
“I’m kind of viewing it as whoever kind of gets the hot hand and how the game kind of unfolds with the style of running we do,” he said. “We’ve talked about this before. … We have certain runs for certain guys. It just so happened that the last couple, the way the defenses have played, that Jordan has kind of gotten more of the touches.
“It takes nothing away from Miles. Miles is very capable of doing that. We’re comfortable with Miles, very confident with Miles.
“He might be a little better in the passing game than, say, Jordan is, so we’ve used him there as well. But sometimes it’s the hot hand, but all our guys are very capable of handling the load.”
In other words, it might be Howard whogets the bulk of the carries — unless it’s not.
Injury updates: WRDeSean Jackson (abdomen), CB Ronald Darby (hamstring), CB Avonte Maddox (neck), RB Corey Clement (shoulder), DT Timmy Jernigan (foot), CB Orlando Scandrick (illness) and RB Darren Sproles (quad) did not practice.
S Rodney McLeod (knee) and T Jason Peters (knee) were limited.
Who returns punts? The injuries to Sproles, Clement and Jackson mean the Eagles could be scrambling to find a punt returner this Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings.
Wide receiver Nelson Agholor has some experience and filled in last week, but all he would say on Wednesday was: “We don’t know what’s going to happen, but if my number gets called to go back, I’ll be ready.”
All Pederson would say was: “We’re going to work a couple guys there this week,” and, “I do,” when asked if he didn’t know yet who will handle the duties on Sunday.
Beyond that, the coach gave no more clues.
That has left at least one writer to speculate that the solution could be right in their building: practicesquad running back Boston Scott.
Ed Kracz of Sports Illustrated suggests that a roster spot could be created for Scott, who returned for them briefly last season, by deleting Sproles, who last week moved into fifth place all time in NFL allpurpose yards.
Sproles could go to the injured reserve list or reserve/retired list, because with newcomers Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders having taken over the bulk of the runningback chores even before Sproles’ injury, it’s not like the team is depending on him anymore.
Something to keep an eye on this week, at the very least.
Morning Call reporter Nick Fierro can be reached at 610-778-2243 or [email protected]