The term "next-man-up mentality" is thrown around a lot in locker rooms all across the NFL, but no position group has had to live out that mantra more than the Eagles' secondary.
Even before the regular season began the Eagles were without Jalen Mills and Cre'Von LeBlanc due to foot injuries.
Just four games in, Ronald Darby (hamstring), Sidney Jones (hamstring), and Avonte Maddox (concussion, neck) are all sidelined as well. Jones and Maddox both suffered their injuries during the Week 4 victory over Green Bay, leaving the Eagles with two healthy cornerbacks for the game's final two plays.
The next man up last Thursday night turned out to be Craig James, who made an immediate impact by deflecting a pass up into the air that fell into the waiting arms of linebacker Nigel Bradham to seal the win.
James' big play is even more remarkable considering the lack of practice reps he received during the week, which according to defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, was a grand total of zero. Regardless, James had to be ready to step up.
"Even though you are not out there and I'm not saying your name, you are out there, and I am saying your name. I'm talking to you, so you gotta make sure that you're on your stuff, and he was," defensive backs coach Cory Undlin said of James.
"He was there when his number was called," Schwartz said of James. "We put him in the game, and we were standing on the sideline and Malcolm (Jenkins) was over in our huddle and we were trying to figure out what we were going to do personnel-wise because it affects him. He was playing safety, he was playing nickel, he was playing quarter, he was playing dime, and we thought for a second he was going to have to go out and play corner.
"Then when Craig came in, first thing Malcolm said to him is, 'You know they are coming after you right away,' He goes, 'I know.' He liked that. He was game. He was up to the challenge and made a play to help us win the game."
To add some much-needed depth to the secondary, the Eagles signed veteran cornerback Orlando Scandrick over the weekend. Fortunately for the Eagles, Scandrick is not only an experienced player, but he was also with the team during Training Camp and is very familiar with Schwartz's defense.
"That's one of the reasons we brought him back," Schwartz said of Scandrick. "It's one of the reasons we had him in Training Camp, so we would expect him to be up to speed if he's called upon. There's not going to be any start-up time for him."
"(Scandrick) walked onto the field today, just got here, and went out and practiced with us without no meeting, no nothing," Undlin said. "That's obviously a bonus."
Another bonus is that Scandrick has yet to accumulate any wear and tear from the regular season, as he spent the first four weeks with his family watching football. But make no mistake about it, Scandrick would have much rather preferred lacing up his cleats instead.
"I'm just excited that I get another opportunity to prove that I'm not finished," Scandrick said.
James and Scandrick will join forces with Rasul Douglas, who by default, is the longest-tenured Eagle among the healthy cornerbacks despite being only in his third season.
According to Undlin, Douglas' play has not been perfect, but the team has "full trust in him."
That trust will now extend to the other available corners because regardless of the circumstances, the expectations remain the same.
"The goal is to make sure no matter who's out there or who's in your meeting room that you are coaching them the same as the guys that are playing, even if they're not getting any snaps, which obviously we saw on Thursday night," Undlin said.