UPDATE: The Eagles officially placed Nakobe Dean on injured reserve.
This move opens up a roster spot for the expected Cam Jurgens return from IR.
It’s also worth noting that the Eagles have yet to place Dallas Goedert on IR; perhaps the tight end will avoid automatically missing four games by going on that list. Of course, the Eagles still have until Monday afternoon to put Goedert on IR before having Week 11 count towards his return if he DOES go on.
ORIGINAL STORY FROM NOVEMBER 8 BELOW.
Dean’s injury occurred during the Eagles’ Week 9 win over the Dallas Cowboys. Jeff McLane reports the sprain is in Dean’s left foot, which is not the same foot that previously caused Dean to go on IR after getting hurt in Week 1.
Under old NFL rules, Dean’s season would be over by going on IR twice in one season. A change has since been made to allow players to return from IR multiple times. The only catch is that each return counts toward the team’s limit of eight IR activations per season.
It’s not yet clear if/when Dean will be able to return. At the very least, he’s going to miss the following four games:
- Week 11 at Kansas City Chiefs
- Week 12 vs. Buffalo Bills
- Week 13 vs. San Francisco 49ers
- Week 14 at Dallas Cowboys
The Eagles losing Dean isn’t as big of a deal as it seemed to be earlier in the year when he was projected to be their top linebacker option by far. Dean hasn’t been especially good when healthy; he ranks 66th out of 89 linebackers graded by Pro Football Focus (minimum 20% defensive snaps). Dean’s been a good run defender but he’s struggled in coverage, allowing a 102.4 passer rating when targeted.
After starting the season as LB1, Dean returned from his first stint on injured reserve in a MIKE linebacker rotation with Nicholas Morrow. Morrow had done some good things in Dean’s absence. Zach Cunningham has since established himself as the Eagles’ top-performing linebacker this year.
So, the Eagles can feel OK moving forward with Cunningham and Morrow as their top two options. The issue is that there isn’t much depth behind them. Christian Elliss is the only other healthy off-ball linebacker on the roster and he hasn’t been trusted to play a defensive snap since Week 3. The Birds do have Ben VanSumeren and Brandon Smith on their practice squad.
Dean’s injury is arguably less of a short-term concern and more of a long-term issue. Many considered the No. 83 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft to be a steal who inexplicably fell to Philly in the third round. But Dean failed to get on the field in his rookie season and he’s struggled to stay healthy this year dating back to training camp. His durability is a question mark moving forward and, again, it’s not like he’s been awesome when he’s played.
Still, the Eagles will hope that Dean can get healthy and return later this year. We’ll see if that’s possible.