By Kevin McGuire
With one game separating the Philadelphia Eagles from a trip to the Super Bowl, having all hands on deck can be essential. Fortunately for the Eagles, nearly every available player on the active roster will be ready to play on Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings in the NFC Championship Game. If anything, the Eagles may be a bit shallow with linebacker depth if the injury report has been any indication this week.
Dannell Ellerbe was the only Eagles player to miss practice on Wednesday. A hamstring continues to slow Ellerbe down a bit, just as it did a week ago. He was limited in practice last week and that continues to be the case this week, with the Eagles preparing for the conference championship. There may be a tad more caution in play here with the medical staff and coaches because of the importance of having players in the best health possible this weekend. Ellerbe was limited in practice on Thursday and is considered questionable for Sunday evening.
Ellerbe has been the starting middle linebacker for the Eagles, so his absence would be a concern for the team if he cannot be on the field or is limited in game action. Ellerbe did play last week in the Divisional Round against the Atlanta Falcons, and he recorded a pair of tackles in the 15-10 victory.
Najee Goode may be the most likely replacement for Ellerbe any time he is not on the field. That is in part because another backup linebacker, Kamu Grugler-Hill, was limited in Thursday’s practice as well. Working through an ankle injury, Grugler-Hill is also listed as questionable for this weekend.
The primary backup to Mychal Kendricks may be just a ding on the depth chart, but having two linebackers listed as questionable could present some matchup concerns for Jim Schwartz, because the Vikings could find a way to find some cracks in the middle of the defense and open up opportunities for short gains to turn into long plays.
The only other Eagles player appearing on the injury report heading into the NFC Championship Game is rookie cornerback Sidney Jones, which is to be expected. Jones made his NFL debut in the final game of the regular season after coming off a torn ACL injury, only to suffer a hamstring in the regular season finale against the Dallas Cowboys. That left Jones limited in practice all of last week before taking on the Falcons. This week, Jones is still on the injury report with a hamstring, but he has been a full participant in practices. It is probably still unlikely Jones will play any significant role on the field on Sunday given his hamstring status and the fact this would be just his third NFL game. The stakes are too high to put too much faith in a rookie with that extremely limited amount of experience a week after seeing what poor rookie secondary play can do against the Minnesota Vikings. Jone should only be used in a worst-case scenario situation.
- LB Kamu Grugler-Hill (ankle)
- LB Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring)
- CB Sidney Jones (hamstring)