Just when you thought team health was improving, well, think again.
Safety Rodney McLeod will miss the rest of the season after suffering a torn ACL in his left knee. McLeod, the Eagles’ nominee for the Walter Payton NFL Man of the Year Award, tore the ACL in his right knee early in the 2018 season.
McLeod sustained the injury midway through the third quarter when he blitzed Saints quarterback Taysom Hill. It was a non-contact injury.
A captain on defense, McLeod was well on his way to a second straight and fourth season overall with at least 100 tackles. He bounced back from the 2018 knee injury to play 99 percent of the snaps in 2019 and every snap prior to Sunday’s game.
McLeod was a playmaker on the back end for the Eagles, with two fumble recoveries, one returned for a touchdown, and an interception this season.
More importantly, the Eagles lose one of their best leaders.
The injury bug didn’t stop there…
Cornerback Darius Slay suffered a concussion making the tackle on the play where McLeod was injured. This is Slay’s second concussion of the season. Cornerback Avonte Maddox suffered a knee injury that will sideline him for at least Sunday’s game against Arizona.
(Jalen Mills moved from safety to cornerback and played with Kevon Seymour and Nickell Robey-Coleman, while Marcus Epps and K’Von Wallace handled the duties at safety.
Head coach Doug Pederson confirmed on Wednesday morning that rookie tackle Jack Driscoll suffered a knee injury in Sunday’s win over New Orleans.
It is yet to be determined whether or not Driscoll will need surgery. Matt Pryor will start at right tackle in what will be the team’s 13th different starting offensive line combination in 14 games. It’ll be Pryor’s second start at right tackle this season. He’s also started six games at right guard in 2020, while filling in at left guard this season as well.
The Eagles had 10 players on their initial injury report Wednesday as they began to prep for Sunday’s matchup with the Arizona Cardinals. That does not include safety Rodney McLeod, who was officially placed on Injured Reserve earlier in the day.
Did Not Participate:
• DB Grayland Arnold (hamstring) – The rookie free agent was a game-time decision against the Saints, but didn’t play. He’s only played on special teams, but the injuries in the secondary could press him into defensive duty if he’s able to play.
• DT Fletcher Cox (rest) – The norm for Fletcher Cox on Wednesdays.
• T Jack Driscoll (knee) – Doug Pederson said on Wednesday that Driscoll will “miss some time” with the injury.
• CB Avonte Maddox (knee) – Coach Pederson said the same about Maddox on Monday.
• CB Darius Slay (concussion) – Slay suffered a concussion on the same play in the third quarter of Sunday’s game where McLeod suffered his knee injury. This will be a key injury to monitor with the Cardinals’ wide receiver duo of DeAndre Hopkins and Larry Fitzgerald.
• LB T.J. Edwards (hamstring) – Some good news here! The starting middle linebacker could return to the lineup after missing the win over the Saints.
• S Rudy Ford (hamstring) – Another positive sign for the special teams unit as Ford practiced for the first time since Week 10.
• DT Malik Jackson (concussion) – Jackson suffered the injury against the Saints. The defensive tackle rotation has been strong with the emergence of Javon Hargrave, so Jackson’s absence would be a big loss.
• CB Michael Jacquet (hamstring) – Jacquet suffered the hamstring injury two weeks ago against the Packers and did not practice at all last week, so this is a positive sign with Maddox out and Slay’s status up in the air for Sunday.
• DE Josh Sweat (shoulder) – Coach Pederson said that Sweat would be good for Sunday’s game.
The Eagles also acquired some reinforcements for the secondary on Wednesday:
• Eagles promote DB Elijah Riley from the practice squad
The rookie free agent out of Army played in two games as a practice squad call-up earlier this season in the games against Pittsburgh and Baltimore. He was on the field for 30 special teams snaps and two on defense in those contests. The 5-11, 214-pound Riley was a team captain for the Black Knights in 2019. In his four-year career at Army, Riley accumulated 201 tackles, seven interceptions, and 6.5 sacks.
• Eagles sign S Blake Countess to the practice squad
If the name sounds familiar, Countess was a sixth-round pick of the Eagles in 2016 out of Auburn. He returned in the 2019 offseason, but was waived with an injury settlement during Training Camp. He signed with the New York Jets where he played six games last season.
The 5-10, 191-pound Countess signed with the Rams shortly after being released by the Eagles at the end of his rookie Training Camp. In three seasons with the Rams, Countess played in 37 games (4 starts) and amassed 39 tackles, two interceptions, and one sack on defense.
In 2018, Countess led the Rams with five special teams tackles and was also the primary kickoff returner averaging 24.6 yards per return. Countess has scored two touchdowns in his NFL career, both off blocked punts. His first one came against the Eagles in 2017. In Week 3 of the 2018 campaign, Countess earned NFC Special Teams Player of the Week honors for recovering a blocked punt in the end zone against the Chargers.
A graduate transfer at Auburn, Countess posted 71 tackles in his senior season. In three years at Michigan, Countess started 30 games and was a two-time All-Big Ten selection.
• Here’s who the Eagles have on the active roster and the practice squad in the secondary:
Cornerback: Michael Jacquet (missed Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury), Avonte Maddox (out with a knee injury), Nickell Robey-Coleman, Kevon Seymour, Darius Slay (concussion), Lavert Hill (practice squad), Jameson Houston (practice squad)
Safety: Grayland Arnold (missed Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury), Marcus Epps, Rudy Ford (missed Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury), Jalen Mills, Elijah Riley, K’Von Wallace, Blake Countess (practice squad)