Philadelphia Eagles News

'One Play Away' Rings True Here

In his sixth season here, Akeem Jordan has done it all. He's started 27 games, he's been a deep reserve, he's played every linebacker position and he's been up on the active roster and he's been on the practice squad.

Career security is not a gimme for Jordan. Not by a long shot.

So he has always followed one mantra: Be prepared, because you never know when your situation is going to change.

"Be ready for anything, basically," says Jordan. "This is a crazy life."

So it is. And this week may be crazier than most for the Eagles, who have a handful of injuries that could very well cloud the who's-playing picture right up until Sunday morning. The wide receiver position, particularly, with Jeremy Maclin (hip pointer) and DeSean Jackson (hamstring) ailing. Could it be that Jason Avant and Damaris Johnson or even newly signed Mardy Gilyard start on Sunday against the outstanding Baltimore defense?

Could be. Things happen in the NFL. It's a game of attrition, which is why every roster spot is so valuable and why every practice squad job is so important why every team's "secret" list of go-to players in case of an emergency is so closely guarded.

It doesn't matter whether you are a starter or a backup in this league. You prepare to play every week.

"Definitely," said left tackle King Dunlap. "You have to be ready to go. It can be tough when you aren't starting and you don't get that many reps in practice. You have to work on your own, to the side. You have to make the most of your time and prepare yourself for when they call you, because if you aren't ready when they call your name, you aren't going to be around for very long."

Players like Dunlap and Jordan and tight end Clay Harbor and, well, everyone on the roster knows the deal. The Eagles have a series of bumps and bruises that have left them thin at wide receiver and have forced them to shuffle the roster cards just a bit this week.

The hope is that the two days between now and Sunday's 1 p.m. kickoff will give Maclin and Jackson time to heal. Maybe they will feel good enough on Sunday to give it a go. But if they can't, the Eagles have to adjust on the fly. Would they, for example, have a throw-heavy approach if Maclin and Jackson are sidelined? How much changing of the personnel would they attempt? How creative could offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg get before damaging the continuity?

Roster pieces aren't exactly interchangeable, but the Eagles have always had the approach that if Player A is injured, an opportunity is created for Player B and that the show is expected to go on as planned. The defense seems much more fluid in that regard. Jim Washburn already rotates his talented defensive line. The linebackers work in and out of several different packages. Kurt Coleman and Nate Allen are free safety and strong safety, although they could easily be called strong safety and free safety, respectively.

It's really early in the season to say that depth could very well be tested, but that's the case. Wide receiver is a position to watch on Sunday, and even if Maclin and Jackson play, the Eagles have to make sure there are able numbers behind them, in case the injuries hamper the explosiveness of both players.

At safety, the question is whether both Colt Anderson and David Sims dress, or if the Eagles chose to go thin with just three safeties, as they did last Sunday in Cleveland.

The Great Gameday Roster Juggle is nearly upon us, and the Eagles have some critical decisions to make. They've gone through a week of practice with an idea of who they are going to have available to play a deep and talented Ravens team. All of that could change with one tweak of a thigh muscle, lending more evidence that everyone -- coaches, players, the front office - knows how important it is to be ready and to know that "one play away" pertains to an entire team.

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