Philadelphia Eagles News

Offense Faces Test With Injuries Mounting

This injury report, well, it's not very favorable for the Eagles. Running backs Jay Ajayi (back) and Darren Sproles (hamstring) are out for Sunday's game against Indianapolis. Corey Clement, who is the next man in line to carry the football, popped up on the injury report on Friday with a quadriceps injury and is listed as questionable for Sunday.

OK, so this is kind of getting intense. The Eagles' only healthy running backs are Wendell Smallwood and Josh Adams. Clement may play on Sunday – we don't yet know his status. But the Eagles have to be prepared to go with Smallwood and Adams the whole way, if need be. That's how serious it is at the running back position for this football team.

"We don't make excuses for it. It's part of the National Football League," head coach Doug Pederson said. "Injuries are going to happen each and every week, and we've got to get the next guy ready to go. We're blessed to have three good tight ends. We get them in the mix. We've got receivers that we can move around all over the field and just try to create some matchups. But best we can to keep defenses off balance, we can do that, and just get our guys ready to go."

It isn't just the running back position that's being challenged right now. Alshon Jeffery is listed as questionable for Sunday's game, which is actually extremely encouraging, but it seems unlikely that he plays this week. Then again, who knows? He's been a limited participant in practice all week. Maybe he shocks everyone and plays against the Colts. More likely, Jeffery returns when the Eagles play at Tennessee against the Titans. Mike Wallace (fibula) and Mack Hollins (groin) are on Injured Reserve.

The Eagles figure to start Nelson Agholor and Kamar Aiken outside and Jordan Matthews inside. At the very least, the Eagles have experience and they've developed some chemistry over the years with quarterback Carson Wentz.

Along the offensive line, left tackle Jason Peters was a full participant in practice on Friday and is listed as questionable for the Colts. That's encouraging. But you also keep your fingers crossed that Peters can stay on the field for 60 minutes and protect Wentz's back side If not, the chore goes to Halapoulivaati Vaitai.

It's very possible that Wentz starts on Sunday with a running game led by Smallwood and a passing game that includes options like Aiken, with whom he has never played a game, and Matthews, who just signed with the Eagles this week after a lot of time of inactivity. That's not exactly how the Eagles envisioned it when they put their roster blueprint together in the spring and through Training Camp. Injuries have been a theme around here for a couple of years, and the Eagles overcame them last year.

Now? We're about to find out, because this is serious stuff. Shuttling players in and out of the lineup is not the way to create chemistry.

"It makes things harder, but you have to find a way to make it work," said Aiken, who has five receptions for 39 yards this season. "You have to find a way to bridge the lack of time you've spent together. But that's the way this job is. You have to be ready to play and contribute when your number is called. There are no excuses."

How do the Eagles counter the lack of personnel from a scheme standpoint? They aren't going to re-invent the offense, but they're going to have to take some daring approaches – maybe unconventional is a better way to put it – to keep the Colts guessing wrong. The tight ends, Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert and Joshua Perkins, have to be creatively used and very much involved. Agholor is going to be a key figure in the passing game and, as we've seen in the past, could be a factor in the running game if the Eagles need him to be.

Indianapolis plays a steady Tampa 2 cover scheme emphasizing a lot of zone coverage, and the Colts are likely to crowd the line of scrimmage and make things tough for the Eagles in the box. You would expect the Colts to go after Wentz as he makes his first start of the season.

A lot of uncertainty is up in the air here. Don't take a thing for granted on Sunday.

"We have faith in every person on this roster," Ertz said. "We're all professionals and we know how the league works. You have to make plays when you have your opportunity. Look at it like this is a great chance for some players who are waiting to have a chance to prove themselves. Sunday might be that day. That doesn't change our goal, and that is to win the game. We need this one.'

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