THE EAGLES lost slot corner Ron Brooks to a ruptured quadriceps tendon as he twisted to try to make a tackle late in the first quarter Sunday, the Daily News has learned.
A source close to the situation said Brooks will require surgery and is unlikely to be completely healthy again until next July's training camp. That means he will go on injured reserve and the team will have a roster spot to fill.
Brooks, 28, signed as a free agent from Buffalo this year, was mainly a special-teams standout for the Bills but has started five of six games here, the Eagles missing Leodis McKelvin for three games with a hamstring, and sometimes opening in nickel packages. McKelvin making it through Sunday's victory over Minnesota mitigates the loss of Brooks at least a little, but it would seem either rookie corner C.J. Smith or veteran safety Terrence Brooks will have to be activated for the Dallas game next Sunday night.
The Eagles could sign a corner - though asking him to play soon if he's new to the defense might be a stretch - or they could use the roster slot for someone at another position. They do not have a defensive back on the practice squad at the moment.
Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has some flexibility in that safety Malcolm Jenkins moved there from corner and likes to play in the slot, and safety Jaylen Watkins also was drafted as a corner.
Brooks and Jenkins continued their national anthem protest before Sunday's game.
He didn't stick around to speak with reporters afterward, but rookie right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai's second start in place of suspended Lane Johnson was much better than his debut at Washington.
It didn't start out that way; Vaitai false-started on the very first snap of the game. But that was really the last time he was all that noticeable, as Carson Wentz was not sacked by the defense that had been leading the NFL in sacks per game.
Doug Pederson said he didn't help Vaitai as much with tight end or running back chip blocks as he had in Washington, where the rookie gave up two early sacks.
"I felt he kind of settled in this week, did a nice job. You know, the run game obviously helps, when you can come off the ball and run the ball (the Eagles finished with 101 yards on 26 carries)," Pederson said. "We were in some two-tight-end sets a little bit more today, and that obviously helped him a little bit."
The offensive line faced some challenges, with right guard Brandon Brooks missing several plays after suffering an ankle injury, Brooks temporarily replaced by Stefen Wisniewski, then left tackle Jason Peters leaving with a bicep strain, replaced by Matt Tobin.
Peters said afterward he would be OK. He said he felt the Eagles were safely ahead, and didn't want to endanger his status for Dallas next Sunday.
"If I had to, I could've gone back in," said Peters, who agreed that Vaitai was much better this week. "Used his hands better. His technique was way better this week than last week."
Josh Huff, asked what he thought when he saw kicker Blair Walsh was the only Viking between Huff and the end zone on his 98-yard TD kickoff return: "He's a kicker. He doesn't practice tackling or anything like that. Honestly, I couldn't let the kicker tackle me; I would have been mad at myself." . . . First career sack for defensive end Steven Means, active because of Bennie Logan's groin injury . . . The Eagles have allowed 10 points or less in all three home games this season, and they are plus-61 at home, outscoring opponents 84-23 . . . Going into Sunday night's action, the Eagles had the only two kickoff return touchdowns in the NFL this season . . . Connor Barwin's sack was his first since the opener against Cleveland. Jim Schwartz had talked about limiting Barwin's snaps to keep him fresher after a bad game at Washington, but Barwin said he felt he played the normal amount. "We're continuing to try to figure out the best rotation," Barwin said. "I've heard the coaches say it - it's easy to talk about how we're going to do it, but once you get into a game, it gets a lot more complicated. How a drive goes, (whether) you have opportunity by them switching out personnel, or having a dead ball . . . just because our defense was playing better, it was easier to dictate the way we rotated. I felt fresh out there, Vinny (Curry) got a bunch of snaps, Marcus (Smith) got in there and got more snaps (than usual, including a tackle for a loss). (Steven) Means even got in at the end."