Eagles Update CB Situation: ‘He’s Our Starting Corner Outside’

Avonte Maddox

Getty Eagles CB Avonte Maddox is the long-term starter in Philadelphia.

Avonte Maddox saw his first game action last week since injuring his ankle on Sept. 27. Maddox, the usual starter opposite Darius Slay, saw just three snaps and clearly wasn’t 100% healthy. Nickell Robey-Coleman (59 snaps) took over as the starting outside cornerback in what can be best described as an up-and-down performance. Translation: he missed a lot of tackles.

Philadelphia needs Maddox back locking down the outside if the secondary wants to have any success moving forward. They have experimented with a myriad of replacements in the four-plus games that the Pittsburgh product has missed, including Robey-Coleman, Craig James, Trevor Williams and even moving Jalen Mills back over to corner from safety.

The Eagles didn’t practice on Tuesday — they’ll return to the field tomorrow — but defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was asked about Maddox’s status for Week 8. Maddox is “trending in the right way,” per Schwartz.

“He was trending the right way. Looks like he’s definitely trending to being able to get back in there,” Schwartz told reporters. “I thought Robey did a good job subbing in there, but Avonte is an outside corner for us and it will be good to get him back out there.”

Schwartz admitted that Maddox’s presence versus New York was for emergency purposes, then he got pressed into service on punt return duty. The main goal was just to keep him “warm” in case someone went down in the game. When asked if Maddox was his starter for the rest of the year, the coach didn’t mince words.

“Oh, yeah, he’s our starting corner outside when he is healthy,” Schwartz said. “He was just coming back. It was a difficult week. We started his return to play and we didn’t have any practice, so it was really hard to gauge where he was.”

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Update on Malik Jackson, Defensive Tackle Rotation

It sounds as if Malik Jackson will miss at least one more week with a quadriceps injury. The Pro Bowl defensive tackle went down versus Baltimore on Oct. 18 and the original recovery timeline was two weeks. The Eagles are also down Hassan Ridgeway who tore his biceps muscle against the Giants. He’s done for the year, leaving Schwartz another acrobatic juggling act to deal with on the defensive line.

“We’ll see where Malik gets to bouncing back. It’s just too early to tell, but we’re disappointed to lose Ridge,” Schwartz said. “Ridgeway was having a very good season. Wasn’t playing a ton of snaps because of the other guys we had there, but he was a very productive player.”

Schwartz revealed the team will lean on starters Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave to compensate for injuries. They may also be forced to give more snaps to veteran T.Y. McGill who saw 15 snaps last week. The 27-year-old is a reliable plug-and-play tackle with 39 career games under his 299-pound belt. McGill has half a sack and two quarterback hits in two games for Philly this year.

“T.Y. has played a couple games for us this year and has given us some quality snaps,” Schwartz said. “We’ll just see where we get to on Sunday with the rest of those guys, but obviously it’s an important position for us. It will probably put more snaps on guys like Fletch or Hargrave or Malik when he gets back healthy.”

Watch Out for Emerging Derek Barnett

The hype train for fourth-year defensive end Derek Barnett has been picking up steam in recent weeks. The former first-round pick (14th overall) recorded one sack and three quarterback hits last week against Giants quarterback Daniel Jones.

Barnett came into training camp boasting about wanting to prove to everyone he was “worth that pick.” Unfortunately, he was forced to sit out the entire preseason and the Week 1 season opener due to a lower-body injury. Now he’s finally getting up to speed and Schwartz likes what he sees from the 259-pounder.

“We’re seeing the player that we expect with him and he’s been productive for us on the field,” Schwartz said. “Always plays hard. Always plays tough. That’s a given. But I think that move and limiting some of his other moves has been productive for him.”

The coach praised the play of all his pass rushers, too. Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry, Josh Sweat, Genard Avery have “been productive” and formed a formidable defensive end rotation.

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