The happy buzz from Monday night’s Carson Wentz-led vanquishing of the Washington Redskins lasted barely 12 hours. It faded when Eagles coach Doug Pederson stepped to the NovaCare lectern Tuesday and announced that both left tackle Jason Peters and middle linebacker Jordan Hicks will miss the remainder of the season.
That was expected in the case of Hicks, who tore his right Achilles tendon, but the hope Monday night, going into Tuesday’s MRI, was that Peters had injured just his MCL, which wouldn’t necessarily end his bid for a 10th Pro Bowl, and the first playoff victory of his 14-year NFL career. The MRI told a different story: MCL and ACL tears in Peters’ right knee.
Pederson said he and his offensive staff will sit down Tuesday or Wednesday to determine whether to continue Monday night’s alignment – swing tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai came in for Peters, after Washington’s Ziggy Hood fell across the back of Peters’ leg, in the third quarter – or to let Vaitai play his more natural right tackle position and move Lane Johnson to the left side.
Reading between the lines, the momentum certainly seems to be toward keeping the Monday night setup. Johnson, already being paid left-tackle money, isn’t pushing the transition, and when it comes, he might need some time to adjust. Switching the spots might weaken the team in two places.
Pederson said more than one linebacker might have to help fill the void left by Hicks, who had emerged as the leader of the front seven. Najee Goode and Joe Walker filled in against Washington, both making glaring errors in coverage.
Hicks tore his left Achilles in 2013, playing for the University of Texas. He hoped he’d put an injury-marred past behind him when he played 95 percent of the Eagles’ snaps in 2016, but he will go on injured reserve for the second time in three NFL seasons. Hicks’ rookie year of 2015 ended after eight games, with a torn pec tendon.
Losing Hicks and Peters continues a leadership drain that began in training camp, when management traded wideout Jordan Matthews to Buffalo, and continued when running back/returner Darren Sproles and special teams captain Chris Maragos went down for the season.
“It can make an impact,” Pederson said, on a team that has so far done an exemplary job of making up for large and small injury absences. Pederson said his players “rally around the guys that are hurt,” while keeping perspective and also rallying around players such as Vaitai.
“Lot of confidence in all the guys. Great group of leaders on this team, and they’ll be ready to go,” Pederson said.
As Peters rode off the field on a cart Monday night, the Linc crowd chanted his name.
“It was breathtaking to experience that,” Pederson said,”for a guy that means a lot to this organization, this community, this city. His blood, sweat and tears have been on that practice field, that game field, for a lot of time, a lot of Pro Bowls.”
When Jason Peters was on the cart, he was telling Jeff Stoutland tips to pass onto Vaitai. Wentz said he was still locked into game.
— Zach Berman (@ZBerm) October 24, 2017
Pederson said the search for players to fill the Hicks and Peters roster spots will start in-house, but obviously, the personnel department will be scouring its lists of available talent, as well.
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