The Philadelphia Eagles will host the New Orleans Saints in a make-or-break week 5 contest. The Eagles have had their share of injury issues over the past few weeks, however, the Saints are dealing with a few key injuries of their own, including that of left tackle Terron Armstead:
The Armstead injury comes at an incredibly inopportune moment for the Saints, who finally gained some momentum after finally getting in the win column in week 4. Now, quarterback Drew Brees –who is recovering from a shoulder injury himself– will be at a disadvantage with a rookie tackle making his first career start on his blind side. The Eagles defensive line is already one of the most prolific units in the NFL, so the loss of Armstead could be magnified exponentially.
Conversely, for the Eagles, Armstead’s absence couldn’t have come at a more opportune time. Not only does Philadelphia face a must-win situation on Sunday, but they’re in dire need of an edge-rush boost. Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham haven’t won in many one-on-one opportunities this season, so squaring off with a rookie tackle with no NFL experience is the ideal situation for a veteran pass rusher. Hopefully the absence of the athletic Armstead –who has yet to allow a sack this season– will provide the Eagles OLBs with the shot in the arm they need.
Armstead isn’t the only New Orleans casualty, however, as veteran punter Thomas Morestead will not be able to go:
While punter isn’t typically viewed as key position, the loss of Moorestead could easily prove problematic for the Saints. The Eagles employ what is perhaps the best special teams unit in the league, headlined by former New Orlean Saint Darren Sproles, who is a huge play waiting to happen. One poor kick or late get-off could result in a blocked punt or return touchdown. The Saints punter situation will be one to monitor on Sunday.
On the Eagles side there are a few key injuries as well (albeit nothing overly surprising). There is a bright side, however, as there are even more key returns:
The absence of Kiko Alonso is a given, considering the announcement that he’d have to rehab his knee for at least a month before he is game ready. Meanwhile, Mychal Kendricks and Brandon Bair were both expected to be unable to go, after going down last week, and then having missed practice for the entirety of this week. Rookie Jordan Hicks has been a revelation since taking over for an injured Alonso in week 2, while the Eagles defensive line is the deepest and most talented position group on the team. So, although the losses of Alonso, Kendricks and Bair are far from ideal, they’re not crippling.
On the flip side, regaining both Cedric Thornton and Taylor Hart will be a boost to the defensive line depth, and is another reason why the loss of Bair means very little. Jason Peters and Lane Johnson are absolutely integral to the success of the offensive line, so their presence will at least give the line a chance to bounce-back from last week’s debacle. My concern here is that Johnson will be playing with a pair of sprains, while Peters has missed time in every game this season. It’s clear that the offensive line will not be 100% despite entering the game with all its projected starters.
Although Byron Maxwell has been less than impressive, he’ll make his return on Sunday, hoping to get back on track. Chris Maragos may reassume his role of nickel safety, but the positive play of Eric Rowe could cut into his snaps.
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