The Eagles have their biggest test of the year so far on Sunday night against the Dolphins. After dropping their first game of the season to the Jets, they will need to rebound quickly against the most explosive offense in the NFL. With injuries plaguing the team on both sides of the ball, rookies will need to step up to provide the Eagles with needed juice to hopefully get back in the win column.
Is Jalen Carter healthy enough to play and make an impact?
The Eagles defense played well against New York, but there was still a Jalen Carter sized hole in the game. The Eagles could’ve used his big play ability to turn the tides in a tight match up. Against the Dolphins and their high powered offense, having extra weapons to rush the passer with will be crucial. If Carter is healthy, he could give the Eagles a huge boost against Tua Tagovailoa and company.
Something... anything from Nolan Smith?
We all keep waiting for the game where Nolan Smith sees a slightly bigger role on the defense. It might not even happen this year but it’s still worth waiting for. Pass rush will be at a premium in this game and the Eagles may prefer to get as much speed on the edges as possible, which could be an opportunity for Smith.
Will Tyler Steen get a shot at tackle if Lane Johnson is hurt?
The Eagles are hoping that Lane Johnson can play through an ankle injury on Sunday. Johnson has arguably been the Eagles most valuable player since he was drafted in 2013 and that was evident when he left the game last week. Jack Driscoll struggled mightily and could’ve put his depth chart position on thin ice. Steen is, no doubt, a more raw player and looked much better in preseason at guard than at tackle. That being said, he is a very gifted physically and high level athleticism is crucial at tackle.
Rookies stepping up in the defensive backfield.
The Eagles secondary has been a mess this season. It is a miracle (and a credit to Sean Desai) that the defense has been so solid despite constant injuries to the Eagles defensive backs. It has truly been a revolving door at cornerback and safety and Sunday will be no different. Darius Slay, Bradley Roby, and Reed Blankenship are all listed as questionable while Justin Evans is out for the next few weeks. Factor in the Avonte Maddox injury and you really see how snakebitten the unit has been.
The Eagles will require a lot from their corners and safeties on Sunday. The Dolphins have an array of weapons at receiver that can stress and devastate the most talented secondaries. It is likely that Eli Ricks will be back in the lineup on Sunday after he avoided a serious injury against New York last week. Ricks will probably play nickel with Josh Jobe and James Bradberry on the outside if Darius Slay can’t play. At safety, a healthy Sydney Brown will likely start next to Terrell Edmunds. Last week, it was Mekhi Garner who had to play a decent amount of snaps at safety but hopefully he won’t be forced into that position again.
Things are shaky, but this is a huge opportunity for a handful of the Eagles rookies to prove themselves in a big moment.