There really isn't any time to lament the loss of starting left offensive tackle Jason Peters and starting middle linebacker Jordan Hicks for the season. Injuries happen. It's the NFL. It's a lousy hazard of the job. Peters and Hicks join Caleb Sturgis, Darren Sproles, and Chris Maragos as key veterans, starting veterans, lost for the remainder of this Eagles year. Cornerback Ronald Darby hasn't played since Week 1.
Next man up.
Look, every team in every sport has that mentality. It's the way life works. Someone goes down, another person has an opportunity to shine. The Eagles aren't feeling sorry for themselves after losing two more leaders, two more high-production players.
They're simply moving on. Second-year offensive lineman Halapoulivaati Vaitai stepped in for Peters in the second half of Monday night's win over Washington and played left tackle as if he had prepared to do so for more than a week. Vaitai has, in fact, been cross-training at both tackle positions and at tight end as the Eagles have their tackles – and some guards – do to prepare for emergency moments like the team experienced on Monday night.
At linebacker, the Eagles are going to trust that second-year man Joe Walker is ready for an expanded role. They've also given Nigel Bradham reps inside since the spring. Safety Malcolm Jenkins has been in the box in certain personnel groupings, and Najee Goode is a veteran in the system and he knows all three linebacker positions.
So, there are options. This is very much a challenge, but the Eagles really have no choice: They have to find solutions.
"It's easy to put your head down when you see guys get hurt, but the fact is that injuries are going to happen in the NFL and the good teams find ways to overcome them," Jenkins said after Monday night's 34-24 victory that pushed the Eagles to 6-1 with five consecutive victories. "Every player here prepares for the opportunity to get on the field and contribute. That's where we are right now. We're all going to work together and keep playing our kind of football."
Said Bradham: "It's testing our depth, but our depth has been showing well. I think that's a good thing. We're getting some guys back; I know Darby will be back soon, hopefully next week, and hopefully, some more guys come back. I know we have Mychal (Kendricks) back next week who was down this week (with a hamstring injury). It's just testing our depth and we're going through all the adversity. We're grinding and not making any complaints. Everybody's stepping in and (making plays)."
There is an encouraging and, really, overwhelming amount of confidence coursing through the collective veins of this locker room, so while the Eagles understand the significance of losing Peters, destined to be a first-ballot Pro Football Hall of Famer, and Hicks, the quarterback of the defense, for the remainder of the season.
said. "It starts in practice. I think in practice we do not have to get too many guys going. Everybody is excited. Well, I am not going to say excited, but when it is time to work, it is time to work. We bring the energy every day and we have good personalities on the team that fit together."
Hey, the train needs to stay on the track. The Eagles have a roster full of players who are contributing. Head coach Doug Pederson talks about "ownership" all the time, and it's working. The players want to play. They want to contribute.
And they're doing it. Two more men went down on Monday night and they have long recoveries ahead. There are nine games to play in the regular season. The next men are up. Time to get ready for San Francisco and a Sunday game at Lincoln Financial Field on a short week.