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Eagles announce return of Kerryon Johnson and other practice squad news

Transaction Tuesday.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Eagles officially announced some practice squad news on Tuesday evening. An overview:

  • RB Kerryon Johnson and OL Luke Juriga were signed to the practice squad.
  • K Matt McCrane was released from the practice squad.
  • WR John Hightower was placed on the practice squad COVID list.
  • OT Kayode Awosika, RB Jason Huntley, CB Mac McCain, and LB JaCoby Stevens were designated with practice squad protections.

Let’s sort through this on a player-by-player basis.


The Eagles originally claimed Johnson off waivers when he was released by the Detroit Lions in May. As a former second-round pick who showed some promise early in his career, he was an intriguing pickup.

There was thought Johnson would have a good chance to make the roster but he got hurt in training camp. As a result, he was waived with an injury designation when the Eagles were required to trim their roster from 90 to 85 players in mid-August.

Johnson resurfaced when he signed with the San Francisco 49ers’ practice squad in September but he was released in October. He worked out for a few teams (Packers, Washington, Vikings) but remained unsigned ... until now.

The Eagles bringing back Johnson raises questions about the severity of the Miles Sanders and Jordan Howard injuries. Sanders has already been ruled out of Philly’s Week 17 game due to a broken hand. Nick Sirianni said he was “hopeful” JoHo can play but also added that he was “not going to put any timetables on anybody.”

If Howard can’t play due to the stinger he suffered, that leaves the Eagles with just two healthy running backs: Boston Scott and Kenneth Gainwell. And the coaching staff seems to have some reservations about the latter.

The Eagles now have two running backs on the practice squad between Johnson and Huntley. The former (5-11, 206 pounds) offers a bigger profile than the latter (5-9, 193 pounds). Another sign that there could be concern about Howard, who is the Eagles’ most physical back.


The Eagles released Juriga on Saturday to sign McCrane. But now he’s back to give the Eagles more interior offensive line depth.

Sirianni said Nate Herbig would’ve been able to return to Sunday’s game if needed despite suffering a knee injury. Juriga’s return could be a precautionary move regarding Herbig’s status.


The Eagles only signed McCrane on Saturday and he’s already gone a few days later. They’ll have his number on speed dial should Jake Elliott become unavailable for some reason.

Special teams coordinator Michael Clay touched on why the Eagles signed McCrane earlier on Tuesday:

Q. What went into the decision to bring in Matt McCrane? And why was it important to prioritize kicker over maybe bringing in an extra long snapper or an extra punter as well?

MICHAEL CLAY: Obviously, we’ve all seen the headlines and everything with the COVID and people going down. It was more of a contingency plan just in case something were to happen, where we have to bring in a kicker. So, it was more just making sure we were ready for anything to happen, and Nick [Sirianni] and Howie [Roseman] do a great job thinking ahead, just in case. It was more just to cover ourselves more than anything else.


Hightower is the second member of the Eagles’ practice squad to go on the COVID list. Noah Togiai was previously added on Monday. Hightower would normally be a top candidate to be elevated to the roster if the Eagles needed to more receiver depth.


With Le’Raven Clark and Andre Dillard still on the COVID list, the Eagles are thin at offensive tackle. The Birds don’t want to be further depleted by another team poaching Awosika.


Protecting Huntley makes sense given the Sanders and Howard injuries. He’s a candidate to be elevated this weekend. Gainwell’s kickoff return fumble, in addition to Jalen Reagor’s struggles on that unit, should really prompt the Eagles to give Huntley a try at that spot. There’s reason to believe he’s their best option in that role when you look at his college numbers (25.8 average, five touchdowns).


The Eagles have been protecting McCain ever since they added him to the practice squad. They value his potential. Also makes sense to ensure he’s available with Andre Chachere going on the COVID list.


Stevens received a protection for just the second time this year. The Eagles are thin at linebacker with T.J. Edwards, Alex Singleton, Genard Avery, and Patrick Johnson as the only healthy players at that position on the active roster. And the latter two players are more specialized contributors than traditional off-ball linebackers like the former two. Protecting Stevens prevents the Eagles’ LB depth from being further depleted.


DE Derek Barnett
LB Shaun Bradley
DB Andre Chachere
OT Le’Raven Clark
OT Andre Dillard
DE Tarron Jackson
DE Ryan Kerrigan


TE Noah Togiai
WR John Hightower

See below for a current look at the Eagles’ 2021 practice squad.

Format: Position, player, (times protected this season), [times elevated this season]*

*Not counting COVID-19 elevations.

WR John Hightower (11) [1] — COVID LIST

S Jared Mayden (5) [2]

G/T Kayode Awosika (5)

CB Craig James (3)

CB Mac McCain (3)

LB JaCoby Stevens (2)

TE Noah Togiai (2) — COVID LIST

DT Marvin Wilson (2)

TE Richard Rodgers (1) [2]

DE Cameron Malveaux (1)

RB Jason Huntley (1)

RB Kerryon Johnson

OL Luke Juriga

OT Casey Tucker

WR KeeSean Johnson

WR Deon Cain

DT Raequan Williams

LB Christian Elliss

{DE Matt Leo — international exemption - doesn’t count towards limit}

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