With two regular season games remaining, the playoff-headed Eagles are limping toward the finish line.
During the the team’s 40-34 loss to the Cowboys on Saturday, a couple of key starters suffered injuries. Right tackle Lane Johnson suffered an abdominal injury, while cornerback Avonte Maddox suffered a toe injury. Coach Nick Sirianni said Monday both players are expected to miss “a little bit of time.” According to league sources, Johnson is expected to be sidelined for the remainder of the regular season, though the team is hopeful he will return for the playoffs.
The Eagles play the Saints (January 1) and the Giants (January 7 or 8) at Lincoln Financial Field. If the Eagles defeat the Saints next Sunday, they’ll clinch the NFC’s No. 1 seed, which would secure them a bye week along with home field advantage during the playoffs. Their first playoff game would be in about three and a half weeks, either on January 21 or 22, at Lincoln Financial Field.
“They will probably waste a bit of time. We are still evaluating everything,” Sirianni said. “But we will never put a schedule on anyone. Here we are also in the early stages of the process with these guys, so we want to get some information back. But it’s like looking that way. We will see the severity and how long it will last.”
Starting quarterback and NFL MVP candidate Jalen Hurts is also dealing with a shoulder injury that sidelined him Saturday. No Hurts, The Eagles deployed Gardner Minshew’s backup, who completed 24 of 40 passes for 355 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions. There is a chance Minshew will be under center again this weekend with Hurts’ status still up in the air.
“As far as Jalen goes, we’ll see, here it’s one day at a time,” Sirianni said. “We saw how much he wanted to play [vs. Cowboys], and how much he did to prepare his body. Her body heals differently than yours and mine. He’s going to do everything he can to be healthy. If he is healthy, he will play ”.
Meanwhile, the 32-year-old Johnson was hurt during the fourth quarter. on Saturday. He was replaced by backup offensive lineman Jack Driscoll. After the game, Johnson was seen leaving the visitors’ locker room wearing a medical bandage around his waist/groin area. Additional tests revealed that Johnson had torn a tendon in his abdominal area, a league source said.
The Eagles are hopeful that Johnson will return for the postseason, though that could depend on how his body responds to treatment over the next few weeks, a league source said.
A four-time Pro Bowler and two-time All-Pro selection, Johnson has been a key anchor for one of the NFL’s best offensive lines since the Eagles selected him with the No. 4 pick in the 2013 draft. He hasn’t allowed a sack in 28 games.which is the longest streak in the league, according to Pro Football Focus.
“He just scored,” tight end Dallas Goedert said recently. “Any time he gets his hands on somebody, it’s game over. That record is a [heck] of a feat. Every time he steps onto the field, he’s the best tackle there is.”
Johnson initially suffered an abdominal injury earlier in the month during the Eagles’ Week 14 win over the New York Giants. At the time, Johnson described his injury as a “tightening” to his “right lower ab/oblique area.” Although Johnson missed the second half of that game, he returned to the starting lineup the following week in Chicago.
During Johnson’s 10 seasons, the Eagles are 72-44-1 (.620) when he plays, and just 12-20 (.375) without him in the lineup.
With Johnson sidelined for an extended period, the Eagles currently face a couple of personnel decisions. Driscoll is the de facto reserve at right tackle, but the coaching staff could consider moving Jordan Mailata from left tackle to right and inserting backup Andre Dillard at left tackle.
In the case of Maddox, the Eagles could rely on backup Josiah Scott, who fought Cowboys catcher CeeDee Lamb. When healthy, the Eagles have one of the best defensive back trios in the NFL with Maddox starring in the role alongside outside cornerbacks Darius Slay and James Bradberry.
But Maddox, 26, has already missed six games this season due to injuries. He has recorded 43 tackles, one interception and three passes defensed in nine games. Maddox suffered a toe injury while sacking Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott in the first half.
“As much as we want these guys to play, it’s always about their health and the long-term health of the player first,” Sirianni said. “Anything is on the table. I love the fact that Jordan has some versatility. I love that Andre and Jack are really good backups. We have a lot of faith in them to go out and do their job.
“We are bummed by the lack of Lane at any time. But we also trust the guys we have on the roster.”
Sirianni concluded: “One of the first conversations we had during training camp is… adversity is coming. When you go through these things in life and football, when you have the leaders that we have, it makes those roads a little bit easier to navigate. Is it still difficult? It is absolutely still difficult. Are we still angry about our loss? We absolutely are. But sometimes that drives them to dig even deeper so they don’t let each other down. We are going to dig deeper, we are going to find more answers.”