I’ve seen a lot of people asking about the statuses of injured Eagles cornerbacks Ronald Darby and Sidney Jones lately so I figured it’d be good to write a post about them instead of individually replying to all of the tweets I keep getting. Here’s the latest.
To recap, Darby suffered a dislocated ankle in Week 1 (September 10). It was reported at the time that it was a four-to-six week recovery.
This Sunday (October 8) marks four weeks since Darby got hurt. He still hasn’t returned to practice.
Here’s what head coach Doug Pederson said about Darby when asked about the corner earlier this week.
He's getting there. He's -- we'll continue with rehab this week, and get him moving a little bit more. He's on schedule. But with the severity of the injury, as you saw in the Washington game, it’s just going to take time.
And here’s what Pederson said when asked if Week 7 is when the Eagles are expecting him back.
That's kind of the target deadline, if there is one. But I'm not going to hold it as a hard deadline. I'm not going to put him in a box. These things take time. You saw the replay and you saw the ankle. It just takes time.
Here’s what defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz had to say about Darby (and Jones).
Q: What have you noticed about him as he's going through rehab and staying engaged as he works to come back?
Schwartz: Yeah, I think I put him and Sidney Jones in that same category. They have been very engaged in the meetings. They found a way to make use of their time, even though they have been on the shelf. And when it comes time for those guys to be back on the field, whenever that is, they have both put themselves in good position to be ready when their body is capable. When their body is capable, I have no idea. I'll leave that to other people.
Darby has already been ruled out for the Eagles’ Week 5 game. It seems unlikely he’d be ready to play in time for Philadelphia’s game against the Carolina Panthers in Week 6 since it’s on a Thursday night.
Week 7, however, is a Monday Night Football game for the Eagles. That would give the team’s best corner an extra day to be ready to play. The Eagles’ MNF game on October 23 would mark six weeks (and one day) from the time Darby suffered his ankle injury.
If Darby can’t return by then, maybe he’ll be ready for Week 8 against the 49ers. Or Week 9 against the Broncos. At the very latest, it seems like he’d have to be ready in time after the Eagles have a bye in Week 10 and then play the Cowboys in Week 11.
Until Darby returns, the Eagles will likely start Jalen Mills and Rasul Douglas at corner. Getting Darby back would be a big boost for a struggling secondary.
As you’ll recall, Jones suffered an Achilles injury on March 11.
Prior to the start of the season, I wrote an explanation of what the Eagles placing Jones on the non-football injury list meant. Go check that out for more info.
The main thing to know here is that Jones is eligible to return as soon as Week 7. That doesn’t mean he WILL be returning in Week 7. Just that it can happen.
The fact that Jones recently sent out a tweet saying “7 !!!” has caused people to speculate he might start practicing that week. Jones has since deleted that tweet. Could be something, could be nothing.
Here’s what Pederson had to say about Jones this week. Note the part about conditioning.
Q: With CB Sidney Jones, after he had the surgery they said four to six months with six probably being a little more realistic. The surgery was in March, which means September would have been that six-month mark. When he comes off of NFI, it’ll then be seven months. Do you anticipate that he's going to be ready to go when he comes off NFI and how long do you think it might take for him to assimilate into the defense once he does?
Pederson: That's a lot of questions. [Laughter] Again, with Sidney, he is progressing, obviously. And as I said all along, there's really no time table for him. We just want to make sure he's one hundred percent. But you look down the road, there's not only the health issue, but getting into football shape, too, even to be ready to play. So I'm not going to stand here and give you a time table exactly. He's another one that we said all along we want to make sure he's one hundred percent before we put him out there.
And here’s what Schwartz had to say (in addition to what he said in the Darby section of this post).
Q: Not asking you for any kind of update on his progress or return, but CB Sidney Jones, what do you need to see from him, if and when he is ready, before you are comfortable putting him on the field?
Schwartz: That's way too far in the future to comment on that now. When we get him back on the field, we can cross that. There will be a time that we have with NFI or whatever it is to get him on the field and practice. I think we can cross that bridge when we get there. I know he's very engaged. He travels with us on games. He goes to every walk-through. And it can be tedious sometimes going out there and watching everybody stretch. Going out there and going to a meeting the night before the game, knowing that you're not going to play. But I think that it's all beneficial for him in the long run and when he is able to play; again, whenever that is, he'll have benefitted from those experiences mainly because of the effort and the conscientiousness that he's put into that. I've been proud of him that way, and it's a difficult situation to stay engaged, but [he] asks questions in the meetings and is up on just about everything we do and he's been working hard to rehab, also.
Starting in Week 7, the Eagles will have six weeks to decide whether Jones is ready or not to start practicing. If he is ready, the Eagles will then have 21 days to either activate him to the 53-man roster or shut him down for the entire season.
Interestingly, Jimmy Kempski of PhillyVoice believes Jones will play this year.
If I were setting an over-under of when Sidney Jones will make his 1st NFL appearance, I'd say Week 11 (game # 10 after the bye), this year.— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) October 4, 2017
I'd be shocked if Jones didn't play at all this year. https://t.co/F0M0tn4tw7— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) October 4, 2017
It goes without saying the Eagles shouldn’t rush Jones back if he’s not 100%. It’s fair to wonder how much he can even contribute after missing an entire offseason’s worth of practice reps. He also needs to get back into football shape.
If he’s healthy, though, Jones (and his agent) will likely push to play. It’ll be tough for the Eagles to just completely shut him down for the season if he’s fully healthy and ready to go.
The Darby and Jones situations will be worth monitoring over the next few weeks. The Eagles have gotten to 3-1 without them so far. Their potential returns could serve as a boost to the defense.