Lat­est Jones in­jury could spell the end

The Morning Call - - SPORTS - By Nick Fierro

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]

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