Eagles' Jaylen Watkins ready to head back to the corner; Fletcher Cox still missing

Philadelphia Eagles safety Jaylen Watkins during an NFL preseason football game against the Miami Dolphins at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2017.

Defensive backs Jaylen Watkins and Corey Graham, no longer hamstrung, returned to Eagles practice on Wednesday. Watkins said he hopes to go back to the starting corner position he held very briefly in Week 2, before getting injured and giving way to Rasul Douglas.

Starting defensive tackles Fletcher Cox (calf) and Tim Jernigan (heel) did not practice, and the original starting corner in the Watkins/Douglas spot, Ronald Darby, still seems at least a few weeks away from returning after suffering a dislocated ankle in the opener.

Cox is a week or so short of the typical recovery time for an NFL calf strain, though Eagles coach Doug Pederson gave the impression that the tackle is recovering quickly. Pederson said Jernigan is not in danger of missing Sunday’s visit from the Arizona Cardinals.

Running back Wendell Smallwood also sat out practice with knee inflammation that was not considered serious, a source said. Backup defensive tackle Destiny Vaeao (wrist) was a limited participant.


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“I’m healthy,” Watkins said. “I hope I get the shot to go back in where I left off, but Rasul’s been doing a great job.” Douglas, a rookie, figured in 75- and 49-yard pass plays by the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday.

Graham is a veteran backup safety whose presence gives defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz more options in deploying  Malcolm Jenkins – a big consideration, with the Eagles about to face an all-time great slot receiver in Larry Fitzgerald.

“It does give Malcolm some flexibility to move down into the box and play some nickel if we need to,” Pederson said.

Owl returns to nest

Former Temple linebacker Haason Reddick, a first-round pick in the spring, has started three of the Cardinals’ first four games. Reddick rose quickly as a draft prospect after demonstrating during Senior Bowl Week that he could easily transition to inside linebacker.

But this week, star Cards pass rusher Markus Golden’s torn ACL means Reddick will move back to his college outside linebacker position,  as he prepares to visit Lincoln Financial Field for the first time since Nov. 26, when Temple defeated East Carolina, 37-10. Reddick grew up in Camden and played at Haddon Heights High.

“Getting back in the groove of my fundamentals, and really being focused on pass rushing, and the things I have to key on” is his focus this week, Reddick said in a conference call Wednesday.

Reddick got an enthusiastic ovation at the draft, held in Philadelphia. He said he doesn’t know what to expect this weekend.

“At the draft, the response was crazy, so I expect the crowd will be welcoming, but you never know,” Reddick said. “We’ll see.”

Jonesing for Sid

Rookie corner Sidney Jones, recovering from an Achilles tendon tear suffered preparing for the draft, tweeted — then deleted — the number 7, with three red exclamation points, on Monday. Jones is eligible to start practicing in Week 7, after next week’s Carolina game.

Jones wouldn’t confirm the reference Wednesday. “Could mean anything,” he said, smiling.

Pederson said Jones is “progressing” but that “there’s really no timetable for him.” With Jones having missed all the spring work, training camp, and the preseason, “there’s not only the health issue, but getting into football shape, too.”