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Eagles designate 4 practice squad protections ahead of Week 1

Unpoachable.

New England Patriots v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

The Philadelphia Eagles placed protections on the following four practice squad players to ensure that they can’t be poached away ahead of their Week 1 game against the Atlanta Falcons: running back Jordan Howard, wide receiver John Hightower, offensive tackle Le’Raven Clark, and safety Elijah Riley.

JORDAN HOWARD

In a recent interview on NFL Network’s Good Morning Football, Nick Sirianni brought up Howard’s name while discussing the Eagles’ rostered running backs (Miles Sanders, Boston Scott, Kenny Gainwell). Thus, it seems like the head coach views Howard as part of the backfield rotation. The Eagles could be avoiding keeping Howard on the 53-man roster heading into Week 1 to avoid fully guaranteeing his 2021 salary. Elevating him this week acts as a workaround. Can’t imagine he’ll have a huge role but he could see a few carries.

JOHN HIGHTOWER

Hightower doesn’t have a track record of playing special teams so it’s not like the Eagles are itching to elevate him as a sixth option at that position. This protection is more likely about being invested in his long-term potential and not wanting to lose him. Interesting that the Eagles chose Hightower over Travis Fulgham in this regard.

LE’RAVEN CLARK

Clark reportedly had offers from other teams to join their practice squads. The Eagles are trying to prevent those teams from signing him to a roster spot with this protection.

ELIJAH RILEY

Howard and Riley are the two likely candidates to be elevated from the practice squad for this week’s game. Promoting Riley gives the Eagles more depth at safety, where Rodney McLeod and K’Von Wallace are coming off injury. Riley can also contribute on special teams.


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.

RB Jordan Howard (1) [0]

WR John Hightower (1) [0]

OT Le’Raven Clark (1) [0]

S Elijah Riley (1) [0]

RB Jason Huntley

WR KeeSean Johnson

WR Travis Fulgham

TE Nick Eubanks

C/G Ross Pierschbacher

G/T Kayode Awosika

OG Sua Opeta

DT Raequan Williams

LB JaCoby Stevens

CB Craig James

CB Michael Jacquet III

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