While the New England Patriots look as healthy as they have in a long time across the roster, the Philadelphia Eagles are ravaged by injuries.
The New England Patriots have twice as many players listed on their final injury report this week as their Week 11 foe, the Philadelphia Eagles. And yet, there’s no debate between which of these two clubs has a more dire overall outlook this Sunday because of injuries – it’s the Eagles.
Darren Sproles, the versatile running back/receiver/return specialist, will miss the remainder of his 15th year in the NFL because of a hip flexor and torn quadricep that will require season-ending surgery. Fellow running back Jordan Howard, the ex-Bear, is also dealing with an injury – a shoulder stinger he sustained two weeks ago against his old team. His status is officially questionable for the game against New England this weekend.
Because of these injuries to their running backs, the Eagles will likely turn their offense over to quarterback Carson Wentz and rookie running back Miles Sanders. The former is now in his fourth NFL season and is having a solid if not spectacular year by his own heightened standards. The latter is having a superb first season, and currently leads the Eagles in all-purpose yards with 641 through nine games.
Philadelphia also reportedly brought in free agent Jay Ajayi for a meeting on Friday in the wake of the season-ending injury to Sproles and the ongoing uncertainty surrounding Howard’s status. Ajayi last played for the Eagles in 2018 before tearing his ACL in early October, and he was also a member of the 2017 team that vanquished the Patriots in Super Bowl LII. It’s possible he could end up signing with his old team and even playing against New England this Sunday.
Elsewhere on the Philly offense, No. 1 wide receiver Alshon Jeffery is out for this game because of an ankle injury. Jeffery’s status has been well-monitored by Eagles beat reporters as he sat out the entire week’s worth of practices; his absence certainly comes at an inopportune time for the Philadelphia passing attack as they get ready to take on the league’s No. 2-ranked pass defense in the Patriots.
Finally, linebacker Nigel Bradham is out for the Eagles with an ankle injury. Wisconsin rookie T.J. Edwards looks to step in for him and help bolster a Philadelphia defense ranked No. 16 against the pass. On the bright side of the equation for Eagles fans, this defense is allowing less than 100 rush yards per game to opponents and the Patriots run game is well below-average, so Philadelphia has a definite advantage in that department.
The Patriots didn’t list any players as “out” or as “doubtful” for this weekend, and they did enjoy perfect attendance at Friday’s practice from their full 53-man game day roster. They did, however, note that seven different players are “questionable” for Sunday because of a variety of ailments.
Offensively, tight end Matt LaCosse continues to be a familiar face on the Patriots injury report with a nagging knee injury suffered against the New York Giants in Week 6. The injury is reported to be an MCL sprain, and it’s caused LaCosse to miss every game since that Thursday Night Football victory last month.
Rookie return specialist and backup wide receiver Gunner Olszewski is another name that attentive fans have probably spotted on the New England injury report in the past. Olszewski missed the game against the Ravens with a hamstring/ankle injury and saw wide receiver Mohamed Sanu take his place on punt returns.
Fellow rookie Damien Harris also turned up on Friday’s injury report as a late-week addition with a hamstring problem. He was limited in practice this week, though it’s unclear if he’ll actually be active for the game against the Eagles on Sunday regardless of how he feels physically. Sony Michel, Rex Burkhead, James White, and Brandon Bolden are all healthy, and together they’ll presumably shoulder the load at running back versus Philadelphia.
On defense, safety Patrick Chung remains limited in practices and is once again a name on the injury report because of lingering concerns over his chest and heel. It should be noted that Chung was able to play through those injuries against the Ravens two weeks ago, and with over a week’s worth of extra rest during the Patriots’ bye, it’d be a surprise if he wasn’t out there against the Eagles on Sunday evening.
Fellow safety and core special teamer Nate Ebner is battling injuries to his ankle and back this week. He was the only Patriots starter who didn’t participate in practice at all on Wednesday or Thursday, but he returned to practice action on Friday. His status for the game is probably the most up in the air of all the players on the report… though his potential absence would be far from catastrophic for New England.
The last two Patriots on the report are defensive end John Simon (elbow) and defensive tackle Danny Shelton (ankle), both of whom were limited this week on Thursday and Friday in practice. Hopefully each will be able to play through the pain and suit up against the Eagles, as the Patriots need all the bodies they can get up front on defense after surrendering over 100 yards rushing in back-to-back weeks against the Ravens and the Browns.
The Eagles will also be getting longtime starting left tackle Jason Peters back this weekend. Peters hasn’t played since Week 6 because of a knee injury that required minor surgery. While he was limited in practice earlier this week, his name was removed from the team’s final injury report ahead of the game with the Patriots.