The injury bug has hit the Eagles as hard as ever over the first few weeks of the 2019 season. However, it looks like they may finally be getting some relief, with a number of their top players getting close to regaining full health.

Dating back to 2017, the Eagles have been one of the most banged-up teams in the NFL, and this season, the injury troubles began early on. Just within the first week of the preseason, the Eagles lost both Cre’Von LeBlanc (foot) and Kamu Grugier-Hill (knee) for at least multiple weeks. Eventually, Jalen Mills found himself on Injured Reserve, due to an injury dating back to last season, prior to the start of the regular season.

When the season began, injuries began spreading like wildfires. The Eagles witnesses Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, Corey Clement, Ronald Darby, Dallas Goedert, and many more suffer injuries that made them miss at least some game time. Heading into Thursday’s game against the Green Bay Packers, though, a few of those players may finally be coming back.

Here’s a look at the Eagles’ injury report two days out of the much-anticipated game…

Did Not Practice: 

Ronald Darby (hamstring), DeSean Jackson (abdomen), Tim Jernigan (foot)

Limited Participant:

Derek Barnett (shoulder), Corey Clement (shoulder)

Full Participant: 

JJ Arcega-Whiteside (heel), Andre Dillard (knee), Nathan Gerry (knee, calf), Dallas Goedert (calf), Kamu Grugier-Hill (knee), Alshon Jeffery (calf), Nate Sudfeld (wrist)

The most noticeable part about this injury report is the participation of Alshon Jeffery, Dallas Goedert, and Kamu Grugier-Hill. All three players are expected to play Thursday, and that should give the Eagles a tremendous boost on both sides of the ball, along with special teams (specifically for Grugier-Hill).

Before looking at the offensive side of the ball, the season-debut of Grugier-Hill needs to be discussed. Grugier-Hill was in line to be a major contributor on defense before he went down early on in training camp with a grade 3 tear of his MCL, which has held him out ever since. Gruger-Hill was not only in line to be a starter at linebacker, but he is also one of the teams most trusted special teamer’s, and he was even named the special teams’ captain for the second consecutive season.

With Grugier-Hill making his debut, the Eagles can finally roll with the linebacker trio of Nigel Bradham, Zach Brown, and Grugier-Hill, which was the plan from the beginning of the year prior to Grugier-Hill’s injury. The linebacker core has already gotten off to a solid start to the year, but Grugier-Hill’s return will bring that much more of a boost to the group.

As mentioned before, another player whose return will bode well for the Eagles is Jeffery’s.

During his press conference on Tuesday, quarterback Carson Wentz said getting Jeffery back would be a tremendous boost for the Eagles offense, and added Jeffery is a special player that could “terrify” the Packers defense. Wentz also mentioned that with Jeffery in the fold, defenses won’t key upon Zach Ertz as much, which means he won’t see as many double teams.

Both Wentz and head coach Doug Pederson have noted the impact Goedert will make in the offense with him back at (or close to) full health. With Goedert, the Eagles can run “12” formation more, which will allow them to get back to the roots of the offense. The running game has struggled, and that in part is due to the lack of blocking at tight end with Goedert’s absence.

The offense has struggled over the last few weeks, most notably last week, with seven well-documented drops in the 27-24 loss against the Detroit Lions. With Jeffery back at wide receiver, some of those problems should fix themselves.

Another wide receiver who has been out but isn’t expected to play Thursday is DeSean Jackson, whose injury situation is a bit more mysterious. Jackson’s injury was originally noted as a groin but is now said to be an abdomen injury, so it raised the question of if he possibly is dealing with a sports hernia injury. Regardless, Pederson seems to be a bit optimistic about Jackson’s status moving forward.

Pederson said Jackson isn’t quite there yet and “probably” won’t play Thursday, but the long break between week 4 and week 5 for the Eagles could give Jackson a shot at playing when the New York Jets come to town on October 6. Whether Jackson is back for that game or the team plays it safe and holds off until week 6’s showdown against the Vikings, Jackson seems to be set for a return sooner rather than later.

Another player who is no longer on the injury report but has drawn a lot of criticism for his play and health situation is Fletcher Cox.

Cox suffered a toe injury in the divisional round game against the New Orleans Saints and hasn’t quite looked right this season. Through three games this season, Cox hasn’t recorded a single sack, while also logging just 3 tackles, 1 of which was for a loss, and 2 quarterback hits. For comparison, through the same period of time in 2018, Cox had 3 sacks, 12 tackles, 3 TFLs, and 8 QB hits.

Cox clearly doesn’t seem to be 100%, and his lack of production has significantly hurt the Eagles’ pass rush. However, Pederson seems to have faith that Cox will be back at full strength soon.

Pederson compared Cox’s situation to Brandon Graham’s from last season. Graham was coming off ankle surgery after suffering a high ankle sprain on the Christmas night game in 2017 against the Oakland Raiders, and Graham took a while during the 2018 season to get going.

Pederson believes the same thing is happening with Cox but says he thinks the more he plays, the stronger he will get and the more he’ll get his legs back from under him.

One slightly negative health situation that has developed is the status of Ronald Darby.

Ronald Darby is set to miss at least a few games after suffering a hamstring injury, but Jim Schwartz says it will be “a while” before we see Darby back on the field.

Darby’s injury is eerily similar to the situation of Darren Sproles from last season. Sproles, just like Darby, was coming off ACL surgery and had very high usage early on in the year before being put on the shelf due to a hamstring injury. Soft tissue injuries are much more common following a major knee procedure, like ACL reconstruction surgery, so both Sproles, and now Darby, were much more susceptible to sustaining the injury.

As we saw with Sproles, the risk of re-injury is very high with Darby, so the Eagles will have to take it very slowly with Darby before getting him back on the field, or else they’ll risk re-aggravating the hamstring injury before it gets a chance to fully heal. It wouldn’t be surprising to see Darby miss more than a month of time.

However, in this situation for the Eagles, some help may actually be on the way. Cre’Von LeBlanc and Jalen Mills are both eligible to return in the coming weeks, with Mills eligible to be activated off the PUP list on week 7 and LeBlanc eligible to be activated off IR after week 8. There’s no word on the status of either and whether they will return once they’re eligible too, but reinforcements still could be on the way.

Another positive outlook of the CB position is Sidney Jones, who had been ravaged by injuries over the past few seasons, but now *knock on wood* looks to be completely healthy and playing his best football. Jones will get a great chance to shine with Darby out, and he realistically could claim the top CB spot on defense for the remainder of the season.

It’s been a rough go at it for the Eagles, both on the field and with injuries, but it seems like they may finally be getting help in the injury department. Thursday could finally be a good step towards putting together a complete product for the Eagles.

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