Every team has to buy into the “next man up” philosophy at some point over the course of a season. That mindset is being seriously put to the test for the Eagles (0-2-1) heading into Week 4.
When the Eagles face the 49ers in primetime on Sunday night, they will do so without DeSean Jackson, who was ruled out on Friday with a hamstring injury. Next to Jackson on the injury report with a doubtful designation is J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, a second-year wideout that has played sparingly this season and has yet to record a reception.
Coach Doug Pederson addressed the mounting injury concerns on Friday, and essentially told reporters that he’s not going to cry over spilled milk.
“We’re excited about the guys we’ve got and the guys that we’ve been working with this week in practice,” Pederson said. “We do have one more day today to hopefully get some of the guys that are normally out there a chance to get some reps today if they can. We’re moving forward. If they can’t, then we move forward with the guys that we have.”
As of now, those guys are shaping up to be rookie John Hightower and Greg Ward, who some may remember for the valiant effort he gave in last year’s playoffs in a pinch. Much like that wild card matchup against the Seahawks, Philadelphia is again grasping for straws in hopes of plugging in viable options for Carson Wentz to throw to.
The Eagles attempted to address their depth issues in the offseason by drafting Jalen Reagor but, after fairly productive showing in Weeks 1-2, the talented first-rounder missed Week 3 with a thumb injury and was placed on injured reserve last week. Meanwhile, oft-injured yet productive veteranAlshon Jeffery is still waiting to make his 2020 debut as he continues to work his way back from the foot injury that ended his year in Week 14 last season.
With the Eagles still in search of that elusive first win, the spotlight will continue to heat up. The same can be applied to Wentz, who is off to a rough start. The former No. 2 overall pick has completed just 79 of his 132 pass attempts for 737 yards and three touchdowns. He’s also thrown three picks and has been sacked 11 times.
The desire to do more in the face of adversity (and a national TV audience) will be an urge Wentz must resist against San Francisco. Pederson put much of the onus on the coaching staff to position Wentz and the offense for success, regardless of who suits up.
“That’s the thing, and it’s one of the things that [passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach] Press [Taylor] and I, we’ve just talked to him a lot this week about that. Not specifically this week, but really any week,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if we have all our weapons available or not. It’s a matter of just letting those guys work. It’s our job as coaches to make sure that they’re prepared and ready to go with their jobs, and then Carson just handling and running the offense like he knows how.”
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