The Eagles are among very few NFL teams that haven’t lost any key players long-term, heading into the third preseason game.
There was a close brush Monday, however, when two of the defense’s most indispensable, irreplaceable stars, middle linebacker Jordan Hicks and defensive end Brandon Graham, left the joint practice with Miami and went to the locker room.
A source with knowledge of the situation said Hicks suffered a mild groin strain and Graham strained his triceps. Both players are expected to be OK for the regular-season opener, Sept. 10 at Washington.
Hicks and Graham won’t play again in the preseason, but for them that really only means missing Thursday’s game with the Dolphins, since starters almost never appear in the final preseason game, which the Eagles always play against the Jets.
Eagles defensive end Derek Barnett returned to practice after missing Sunday’s session with a leg injury. Barnett took first-team snaps at defensive end after Graham exited, and defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz did not rule out the possibility that Barnett could eventually win one of the starting defensive end spots.
“We’re going to play a lot of guys up front,” Schwartz said. “So the difference between a starter and a second-wave guy is not going to be a ton of snaps, so there’s not a whole lot different there. But he’s certainly playing well, and the greatest reward is the opportunity to do more. …We know he can rush the passer. There’s other parts of it — it’s not just all about rushing the passer, but he’s certainly on the rise. And we’re really, really pleased with where he is right now and also where he’s going. Yeah, we’ll let it play out. We’ve still got a little bit of time, but he’s certainly put himself in that conversation.”
Barnett said he’s less concerned with starting and more with “being as dominant as can be.” That can only happen if Barnett is on the field, so it was a good sign he missed only one day of practice.
“I’m feeling fine,” Barnett said. “Just a little dinged up. But nothing major. So I’m happy to be back out here with my team. I hate missing time.”
Charles Barkley moved to Philadelphia in 1984 and still follows the Eagles, so he knew what he was watching when he attended practice on Monday.
“I think everybody’s excited about Carson [Wentz],” Barkley said. “It’s going to be close on the playoffs or not. They’re in a tough division.”
Barkley said that his time in Philadelphia taught him that no matter how the Sixers, Flyers, or Phillies are doing, “this is an Eagles town.” But Barkley thinks the Sixers will be a playoff team, and with Joel Embiid and Wentz in Philadelphia for the foreseeable future, he thinks it’ll be a fun place to be a sports fan.
“I think if you’re a Philadelphia fan, you’ve got to be really excited for the next, really, 10 years,” Barkley said.
Fine for Treggs
Eagles wide receiver Bryce Treggs was fined $25,000 for a block in the first preseason game, according to his Twitter account. Treggs subsequently deleted the post.