Ronald Darby has gone from questionable with a hamstring strain heading into last week’s game to dressing but not playing against the Dallas Cowboys to being completely off the Philadelphia Eagles’ injury report this week.
That may not seem like a big deal, but now that he’s presumably ready to step back into his starting cornerback role along with Jalen Mills, who returned last week after missing nearly a full calendar year, Sunday against the Bills will mark the first time the two starting corners have been on the field together since last October 28 in London, where they beat the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Mills went out in that game, Darby tore an ACL the following game and it certainly was no coincidence that the Eagles hit rock-bottom exactly a week later in a 48-7 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
What Mills and the Eagles are hoping is that rock-bottom for them this year came in last Sunday night’s 37-10 blowout loss at the hands of the Cowboys.
“We can’t dwell on anything that happened in the past,” Mills said. “We wanted to have that perfect season. We want to be 6-0, 7-0, have an undefeated season. But it is the NFL. It doesn’t happen like that all the time.”
Mills agrees with coach Doug Pederson’s assessment that this is a “mad” football team in the wake of its latest loss.
“I think it’s a great thing,” Mills said. “When you are mad, you come into work and we’re going out there and competing.
“We’ve got Malcolm Jenkins, a guy who’s been in the league 11 years, out there on the scout team trying to get those extra reps. (Safety) Rodney McLeod’s doing the same thing, so that just shows you the type of leadership we have with this team.”
Meanwhile, they figure to be getting stronger at cornerback in the coming weeks. Cre’Von LeBlanc (foot) will be eligible to come off the injured reserve list as early as Monday, and Avonte Maddox is getting closer to his return from the neck and head injury that knocked him out of Week 4′s comeback victory at Green Bay.
Close or far?
Pederson keeps insisting his Eagles’ offense is close to clicking, which is why he still believes it soon will.
“I might have said this last week or the week before, but we’re really close,” Pederson said Wednesday. “I mean, we’re just a block or two away. Miles (Sanders), the youth of a running back just hitting the hole in the right spot and stuff like that. It’s just those types of things we’re still working through with him and some of the younger players.”
Meanwhile, center Jason Kelce isn’t so sure.
“I try not to get too much into how close we are or anything like that,” he said. “All you can do in this league is just try and keep getting better yourself. I think when you start thinking about other things, you start, you know, looking at maybe we if we do this or do that. There’s a lot of people that get paid a lot of money, or they get paid differently to (look at) those things. I just try and take care of my job.
“I think if you try and look too much like that, you can get caught chasing ghosts pretty easily.”
What Pederson admitted to is that the Eagles see a certain amount of unscouted looks from opposing defenses each week and have struggled adjusting to those. This is nothing new, however.
Every team mixes at least a new wrinkle or two into the game plan each week to try to keep opponents honest. It’s just that they haven’t worked as well for the Eagles as they have for the teams they’ve faced.
LB Nigel Bradham (ankle, illness), WR DeSean Jackson (abdomen), DT Timmy Jernigan (foot), CB Avonte Maddox (concussion, neck), T Jason Peters (knee) and RB Darren Sproles (quadricep) did not practice.
T Lane Johnson (illness) returned to practice after missing Wednesday’s session.