The Philadelphia Eagles have had to deal with a number of injury issues this season. The good news is that help might be on the way.
Now that the first six weeks of the 2018 NFL season are over, defensive tackle Tim Jernigan and safety/special teams ace Chris Maragos are both eligible to return to the 53-man roster.
Again, let me be clear: Jernigan and Maragos are now eligible to be activated. That doesn’t necessarily guarantee it’ll happen any time soon, though.
Jernigan began the season on the non-football injury list (NFI) while Maragos was placed on the physically unable to perform list (PUP). This means that neither player was eligible to play during the first six weeks. The trade off is that they don’t count towards the 53-man roster.
Jernigan and Maragos will continue to not count against the roster limit until they are officially activated. It’s unclear exactly when that’ll happen. The Eagles have a six week window (day after Week 6 to day after Week 11) where these players can return to practice. Once they return to practice, there’s then a 21-day window where the player must either be officially activated to the 53-man roster or kept inactive for the rest of the season.
Let’s take a closer look at each player.
Back in early May, Adam Schefter reported Jernigan was expected to be out for “four-to-six months” after having surgery on a herniated disc in his back. If that timeline holds true, the sixth month point would be in November. Jernigan did recently send out a picture on social media, which sparked some fan optimism:
From Tim Jernigan’s Instagram story pic.twitter.com/W0yWfsUtTD— dustin (@Dustinbradley69) October 6, 2018
I’m not sure this means much, though, because the things I’ve heard from inside the Eagles’ facility aren’t encouraging. I mean, Doug Pederson wouldn’t even commit to Jernigan 100% playing this year.
Q: Do you anticipate Tim Jernigan playing still this year?— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) October 3, 2018
⁰DOUG PEDERSON: “He's a guy that we'll just continue to monitor. I don't want to put a cap on him. Don’t want to limit him in any way, and any other expectation than just him getting better and healthy at this time.”
Jernigan has intentionally avoided being in the locker room during media availability, so he clearly doesn’t want to discuss his status.
Hopefully the pessimism regarding Jernigan’s situation proves to be fruitless. The Eagles could really use him back next to Fletcher Cox. His return would be a big boost for Philadelphia’s defense.
I’d just caution against getting your hopes up. Back injuries are very serious. Like, career-threatening serious. And the fact that Jernigan reworked his deal earlier this year to make it very team-friendly doesn’t seem like a great sign.
Perhaps we’ll get a more informative update on Jernigan down the road.
Maragos has been out ever since suffering a PCL injury in October 2017. It seems like he should be physically ready to return at some point. From what I’ve read, 12 months is the longest it takes to recover, and it’s now been a full year since Maragos first got hurt.
Getting Maragos back could be a boost to the Eagles’ special teams unit. His presence also gives Philadelphia an emergency option at safety, which isn’t insignificant based on the injuries the Eagles are dealing with there.
Again, it seems like Maragos should be closer to returning than Jernigan is. We’ll see if the Eagles plan to activate him soon. There’s been no indication either way.
It should be noted that returning Jernigan and/or Maragos to the 53-man roster does NOT impact the Eagles’ ability to bring back two players from their injured reserve list. Jernigan and Maragos were not on IR.
But speaking of injured reserve, here’s a look at the players eligible to return for the Eagles this season.
WR Mack Hollins - Eligible to be activated after Week 8
TE Richard Rodgers - Eligible to be activated after Week 8
WR Mike Wallace - Eligible to be activated after Week 10
S Rodney McLeod - Eligible to be activated after Week 11
RB Jay Ajayi - Eligible to be activated after Week 13
Ajayi’s inclusion here is a formality since his ACL injury will prevent him from actually coming back. It seems like the other four players could actually be healthy enough to return at some point.
Wallace seems like one of the two prime candidates to return this season. The Eagles are in need of a legitimate deep threat and the coaching staff seems to be hoping he can be activated. Back when the Eagles placed Wallace on IR due to his fractured fibula, there was a report “that there is optimism that Wallace can return late in the year.” Wallace’s first game back could potentially be against the Saints in Week 11.
If McLeod is healthy enough to return, the Eagles would certainly love to activate him. It’s unclear if he will be after suffering a torn MCL.
For now, the Eagles will have to continue to move forward with what they have on the 53-man roster and hope they’ll be able to pick up some reinforcements later this season.