The MRI giveth, but it also taketh away.
Magnetic resonance imaging on Eagles corner Ronald Darby’s dislocated right ankle confirmed that there was no break and that ligament damage was minor, a source with knowledge of the situation said Monday.
The view of the Eagles’ medical staff is that Darby will be sidelined four to six weeks, the source said, but leading foot and ankle specialist Robert Anderson, in Charlotte, N.C., is going to deliver a second opinion on Darby’s MRI results. It’s conceivable, but unlikely, that Anderson will find the damage more severe.
Meanwhile, kicker Caleb Sturgis told Comcast SportsNet after the game that his hip flexor injury, apparently suffered on the opening kickoff, wasn’t serious. But Sturgis’s MRI showed a hip flexor tear, a source said, meaning he will be sidelined for several weeks.
The upshot is that the Eagles are auditioning kickers, head coach Doug Pederson confirmed. It will be interesting to see whether they release a position player from the 53-man roster or place Sturgis on injured reserve. There are two IR slots a team can use for players it intends to bring back after Week 8. Would the Eagles use such a slot for Sturgis? Or would they just end his season and go with another kicker, which is how Sturgis got Cody Parkey’s job two years ago? (Parkey now kicks for the Dolphins.)
The stickier problem is getting through several more games without Darby, the corner the Eagles acquired a month ago from Buffalo to shut down top opposition receivers. As luck would have it, one of those is on tap this week when the Birds visit Kansas City – Tyreek Hill, who caught seven passes for 133 yards and a touchdown in the Chiefs’ impressive season-opening victory at New England.
Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who is scheduled to speak with reporters Tuesday, will decide how the team will proceed. Pederson indicated that third-round rookie Rasul Douglas, who was inactive against Washington, might join the lineup. Also inactive was Dexter McDougle, the corner the Eagles acquired from the Jets on Aug. 27.
After Darby went down, Schwartz first moved the other starter, Jalen Mills, to Darby’s side, and put nickel corner Patrick Robinson outside, with safety Malcolm Jenkins taking the nickel role and Corey Graham playing Jenkins’ spot. Later Schwartz also used backup corner/safety Jaylen Watkins outside.
If the Eagles make a roster move at corner, they have second-year man C.J. Smith on the practice squad.
Pederson said the team was “gathering information before we make a full statement” on Darby – presumably a reference to the second opinion coming from Anderson.
Developing Story Lines:
*Until I rewatched the game, I’d forgotten about Nigel Bradham’s drop of an easy interception on the first drive of the day.
*Small sample size, but based on Sunday, blocking is not Torrey Smith’s strong suit.
*Convinced that Jordan Hicks has some sort of magical powers of pigskin attraction. He entered the season as the first NFL linebacker with 11 takeaways in his first 24 games since Jack Ham, 45 years ago. Then Hicks ended up on top of the Kirk Cousins fumble that Fletcher Cox caused. So, 12 takeaways in 25 games. But less typically, Hicks missed a couple of tackles, including a huge whiff on the Chris Thompson touchdown catch.
*Doug Pederson said Carson Wentz’s foot slipped on that first-play bomb to Torrey Smith, “so it was a little underthrown.” Then, the later bomb that didn’t connect with Smith was overthrown, Wentz overcompensating for what happened the first time, Pederson said.
*All that oohing and ahhing over Wentz’s amazing escapes against Washington is just great, but if the Eagles’ offensive line doesn’t play better than that in Kansas City, it will get Wentz killed.
*Kinda quiet 26-snap debut for first-round rookie defensive end Derek Barnett, credited with two tackles, one for a loss, and a hurry.
*Two of Alshon Jeffery’s three catches came on the final Eagles field goal drive. The two-point conversion at the end, a nice play against Josh Norman, doesn’t go down in the books as an official catch.
More Like Nelson SNAGholor
It’s prudent to remain agnostic about Nelson Agholor’s emergence as a real weapon, but the 2015 first-round pick took a huge step forward Sunday. Moved to the slot, with the Redskins more worried about Alshon Jeffery, Zach Ertz, and Torrey Smith, Agholor had the best day of his career (eight catches for 86 yards and a touchdown). There were no drops, no dumb penalties.
If Agholor really can produce at this level, Jordan Matthews won’t be missed. (Well, reporters will still miss him; he’s a much better quote than Nelly.)
That Fletcher Cox had a touchdown dance? How long has he been working on this?
The outcome of the opener was up for grabs until Fletcher Cox scooped and scored with what was ruled a Kirk Cousins fumble with a minute, 29 seconds remaining, but this is also true:
The Eagles trailed only for a minute, 17 seconds late in the second quarter, until Caleb Sturgis’ 50-yard field goal gave them a 16-14 halftime lead.
Also, the Eagles have won eight of their last 10 season-openers.
This Sunday, Doug Pederson visits Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City for the first time as a head coach, Pederson’s first game against his mentor, Andy Reid.
What did Pederson learn from Reid, as an Eagles quarterback and later quarterbacks coach, and then as Big Red’s offensive coordinator in Kansas City?
“Consistency,” Pederson said Monday. “Being honest, being open, and being fair with the players. Teaching, coaching, probably the biggest things. … The attention to detail that he has with his players and his coaches.”
Both teams will be without marquee defensive backs – the Chiefs lost safety Eric Berry for the season with an Achilles tendon tear in their upset win at New England, and the Eagles apparently will be without top corner Ronald Darby for four to six weeks as his dislocated ankle heals.