The news wasn’t good for Malik Jackson. It wasn’t shaping up to be a happy ending after the Eagles defensive tackle was seen walking in a boot following the team’s 32-27 win over Washington.
Jackson, one of the key offseason acquisitions for the defense, was carted off the field Sunday with a lower leg injury. After the game, he chalked it up to football and told reporters it was “just a little injury.” That’s not the case. On Monday, head coach Doug Pederson confirmed it’s a serious injury and the pass-rush specialist will miss “significant time.” No exact timetable for his return was given.
The update immediately sparked rumors that the Eagles could be looking to bring in another player and not necessarily a defensive tackle. Jackson built a reputation more as a sack-master than a run-stuffer, so the Eagles could look out on the open market for an edge rusher, maybe someone who already has familiarity with the team. Guys like Chris Long and Connor Barwin come to mind.
Jackson was being counted as a big contributor for the Eagles in 2019. The eight-year NFL veteran has 32.5 sacks in 111 career games, along with 253 combined tackles and 86 quarterback hits. He’s kind of a big deal.
Mike Pennel Still Available as Free Agent
If the Eagles did want to bring in a new face and go the defensive tackle route, there is no better option than Mike Pennel. The 28-year-old was cut by the Patriots at the end of August, but he had a nice 2018 season for the Jets. GM Howie Roseman is notorious for always looking to add depth and bring in new pieces.
Pennel was one of the premier run-stoppers in the NFL last year who appeared in all 32 games for the Jets over the past two seasons. Pro Football Focus ranked Pennel as the Jets’ Most Improved Player in 2018.
Pennel, at 6-foot-4 and 330 pounds, recorded 27 tackles in 2018 and has 102 tackles during his five-year career with the Jets and Packers. He was considered one of the prized free agents on the market and the Patriots inked him to a two-year deal, at a base salary of $5 million. Pennel was penciled in as their Week 1 starter in the offseason, but he never fit in with New England’s challenging defensive scheme.
Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has a knack for getting the most out of his players and adapting them to fit his scheme. Pennel could certainly help as an insurance policy. As it always does, the decision may come down to money.
Timmy Jernigan Balling Out for Birds
Another defensive tackle, Timmy Jernigan, made his presence known in the Eagles’ season-opening win. He registered one tackle for loss and a huge sack on Redskins quarterback Case Keenum that help set the tone for the defense. Philadelphia recorded 21 quarterback pressures on Keenum Sunday. They were relentless in their pursuit once they came back and built a big lead.
It was Jernigan’s first sack in Eagles green. In six NFL seasons, Jernigan has accumulated 16.5 sacks in 62 career games. He was the only Eagles player to register a sack in the opener.
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