Saturday's Injury Report
The final injury report ahead of Monday's Wild Card Round playoff game between the Eagles and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers has been released and the team will be without All-Pro wide receiver A.J. Brown due to a knee injury.
"He won't be in," Head Coach Nick Sirianni said on Saturday morning. "It was going to be a stretch for A.J. to play. He did everything he possibly could to get himself ready. ... He fought like crazy to try to do everything that he could do to do so, which doesn't surprise me at all about A.J. He's tough, and he'd do anything for his teammates. Unfortunately, he won't be able to rip it this week."
Sirianni said it would be a group effort to replace Brown's production on the field. In the Week 3 win in Tampa Bay, Brown kicked off his NFL-record six straight games with 125 or more yards, catching nine passes for 131 yards.
"I think that's one of our big strengths as a team," Sirianni said. "You think about A.J. You think about Dallas (Goedert). You think about DeVonta (Smith). And then you think about D'Andre (Swift), the role that he has as well. I'm not even mentioning Julio (Jones) and those guys, Quez (Watkins) and OZ (Olamide Zaccheaus), who have made plays throughout the year as well, so I'm excited for those guys to get a little bit more opportunity."
As for the man delivering the ball to those pass catchers, Jalen Hurts, Sirianni said that the quarterback "had a good practice" on Friday. Hurts is dealing with a dislocated finger on his throwing (right) hand. Hurts was a full participant on Saturday and is good to go for Monday night.
"He's fighting through the finger injury, but he had a good practice yesterday, so excited for him and this opportunity. Really excited," Sirianni said. "The energy and the juice in this building today of being here in the playoffs again, we're really excited. We can't wait."
Rookie Sydney Brown is out for the year with a knee injury. The Eagles will decide what to do with his roster spot before Monday night's game. Starting safety Reed Blankenship did not practice all week with a groin injury suffered in the Week 18 game against the Giants, but is questionable and, Sirianni said, will be a game-time decision. Sirianni acknowledged that nickel cornerback Avonte Maddox could be a potential option on the back end of the defense.
"Avonte has flexibility," Sirianni said. "We rep guys at different spots throughout the week. ... I feel confident with Avonte everywhere because Avonte is a really good football player."
Everyone else is good to go for the Wild Card Round matchup, including wide receiver DeVonta Smith, who missed last Sunday's game against the Giants with an ankle injury, and punt returner Britain Covey, who was limited earlier in the week due to a groin injury.
Meanwhile, in Tampa Bay, quarterback Baker Mayfield is "good to go" after missing some practice time this week due to ankle and ribs injuries.
"A couple days' rest will do him good," Buccaneers Head Coach Todd Bowles told Tampa reporters. "Obviously, he hasn't been hit yet, so we're going to try to keep him clean. But he's feeling good. He's ready to go."
Friday's Injury Report
Jalen Hurts (right finger) returned to full practice on Friday. The quarterback was a limited participant during Thursday's practice after injuring his right finger against the New York Giants in the regular-season finale.
Cornerback Darius Slay (knee) and wide receiver DeVonta Smith (ankle) were once again full participants. Slay missed the final four games of the season after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery, while Smith missed Week 18 with an ankle injury that he sustained in Week 17.
Both players expressed their excitement to be back on the field following yesterday's practice.
Running back D'Andre Swift (illness) was a full participant at Friday's practice. The Philadelphia native is on track to make his playoff debut on Monday.
Wide receiver Britain Covey (groin) was once again a limited participant on Friday, just as he was on Thursday.
Wide receiver A.J. Brown (knee) did not practice for the second straight day. Brown exited last week's game after going down with a knee injury in the first half.
At safety, both Reed Blankenship (groin) and Sydney Brown (knee) did not participate in practice. The rookie Brown announced on social media that his rookie season came to an end on Sunday after tearing his ACL. Blankenship exited the game after intercepting Tyrod Taylor in the end zone during the second quarter of the Giants game.
With question marks around the plan at safety for Monday's NFC Wild Card game, veterans Kevin Byard and Avonte Maddox provided some insight during Friday's media availability.
"I think Avonte (Maddox) is going to be out there with me," Byard said. "He has played safety, so it is a pretty easy transition. Obviously, Reed (Blankenship) is a really good player, but I am confident with Avonte back there."
"It wouldn't be the first time I've been at safety in my career, if that's the case," Maddox said. "It's not like it's brand new. Getting my reps in at practice and getting ready for the game, that's what I'm preparing to do. I like playing nickel and safety. I'm confident in myself at safety and at nickel. Make sure I'm communicating and that we're all on the same page. It's a mirror position (with nickel cornerback), so it's not a big deal. It's playoff football and everything turns up a notch."
For the Buccaneers, both quarterback Baker Mayfield (ankle/ribs) and left tackle Tristan Wirfs (illness) were limited participants at Friday's practice after not practicing during Thursday's walk-through. Wide receiver Chris Godwin did not practice on Friday as he was added to the injury report with a knee injury/rest.
The Eagles will hold their final practice tomorrow before their playoff journey begins in Tampa Bay on Monday night.
Thursday's Injury Report
Quarterback Jalen Hurts was a limited participant in Thursday's full-pads practice, wearing a glove on each hand, and termed the right middle finger injury suffered in Sunday's loss to the New York Giants a "day-by-day thing" as he eyes Monday night's playoff game in Tampa against the Buccaneers.
How effective can he be with the finger injury? Time will tell.
"I'm just going out there and doing my best, and doing my best as I told you is a day-by-day thing and getting the preparation in this week and doing everything I can to lead the guys," Hurts said.
Hurts said he had not thrown a football all week prior to Thursday's practice and that his attempt to return to Sunday's game after injuring the finger was "probably physically not the best idea." He said that "everything is progressing in the right way."
"Everything is a challenge when you have a finger out of place," he said.
Head Coach Nick Sirianni said that Hurts' innate toughness will help him as he works his way through the injury.
"I know that he's tough and he'll do everything that he can do to play through it. He went back in the game on Sunday after he had done it. And he was able – I imagine it hurt pretty good," Sirianni said. "He's not going to tell me that, though. Jalen's tough and he's not going to tell me how bad he's hurting. But I just know how tough he is and how much he can fight through and how much pain he can withstand.
"So obviously, it will be a challenge. Obviously, it will be a challenge. And I know that he can overcome because he's overcame so many different things throughout his football journey. And that's what makes him special."
As far as understanding what Tampa Bay might do on Monday defensively, Hurts and the Eagles saw the Bucs in Week 3 and had one of their best offensive games of the season in the 25-11 victory. Hurts completed 23 of 37 passes for 277 yards, one touchdown, and a pair of interceptions against a defense that ranked third in the NFL in the highest percentage of blitzes.
Hurts understands Tampa Bay wants to create pressure. The Eagles' job is to defeat that pressure.
"A lot of it comes down to execution," Hurts said, "and everyone being on the same page. You've got to take advantage of what they're giving you and take advantage of the opportunities that are there. We'll prepare, obviously come up with a good plan.
"It comes down to executing. Whatever is going on, whatever cards we are dealt, we're going to go out there and make them work."
What about Baker Mayfield's status?
Buccaneers starting quarterback Baker Mayfield would not have practiced on Thursday, Tampa Bay held a walkthrough, due to ankle and ribs injuries. Mayfield suffered the injured ribs in Week 17 and compounded that with the ankle injury on Sunday against Carolina. He told reporters that drawing the Monday game was a "blessing" from a recovery standpoint, as it gives him an extra day of rest ahead of the playoff showdown.
Big Play Slay feels a 'little fresher now' ahead of return
After missing the final four games of the regular season following arthroscopic knee surgery, cornerback Darius Slay is "looking forward to getting back out there" when the Eagles take on the Buccaneers.
Slay was a full participant in Thursday's practice, telling reporters he feels "a little fresher now" after the month off.
While he's not "worried about any rust," Slay will contend with a 1,000-yard duo at wide receiver in Mike Evans and Chris Godwin.
"If he plays 20 years, he will break Jerry Rice's record because he is that good at what he does. He's for sure a future Hall of Famer, first ballot," Slay said of Evans, who has surpassed the 1,000-yard plateau in each of his 10 NFL seasons. "His work is explanatory."
Evans also led the league with 13 receiving touchdowns. He did catch one against the Eagles in Week 3, but it was when the game was well out of reach. Through three quarters, Evans was held to 13 yards on two receptions (six targets).
But as Slay said, "it's a clean slate" going into the playoffs. He and the Eagles are embracing the opportunity. Even though this is Slay's 11th NFL season, it's only his fifth postseason appearance.
"We're one of the 14 teams that's playing right now. We're feeling damn good," Slay said. "It's hard to get into the playoffs, the postseason. Thankful we're one of these teams, so we gotta go out here and enjoy it and come out with a W."
DeVonta Smith: 'Count me in'
Wide receiver DeVonta Smith missed the first game of his NFL career on Sunday against the Giants due to an ankle injury.
"Smart decision," Smith said. "If it was a playoff game, count me in."
As for Monday night's playoff game in Tampa Bay, he said, once again, "Count me in."
"I'm good. I'll be there," Smith added.
Smith was a full participant on Thursday, while his teammate A.J. Brown missed practice due to a knee injury. Brown and Smith each went for more than 1,000 yards for the second straight season. After Brown's injury, quarterback Jalen Hurts was without his two top targets at wide receiver on Sunday against the Giants. While Brown's status is up in the air, Smith left no doubt where he will be for this playoff game.
"You don't take no opportunity for granted," Smith said. "Not just because it's the playoffs, any game I go out there I don't take it for granted."
What's the plan at safety?
No surprise that rookie safety Sydney Brown did not practice, as he is done for the season with a torn ACL. Reed Blankenship, though, also did not practice on Thursday due to a groin injury.
Also on the injury report, wide receiver/punt returner Britain Covey was limited with a groin injury and running back D'Andre Swift was full go with an illness that sidelined him against the Giants.
Relive the greatest moments between the Birds and Bucs before they square off in the Wild Card Round.