Eagles’ Zach Ertz Out Longer Than Expected & Pro Bowl WR ‘Tweaked His Calf’

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Getty Zach Ertz is a must-start at tight end.

The Eagles didn’t practice on Thursday morning but there are more injury updates on two top playmakers. Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery have already been ruled out for Week 7. Now their absences on the sideline may be longer than initially anticipated. And for two very different reasons.

According to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo, Jeffery “tweaked his calf from that foot injury” and the new ailment is the one causing the one-time Pro Bowl receiver to miss the Giants game. It’s only a “minor strain” and the Eagles hope he can “ramp himself up next week and be ready for the Cowboys” on Nov. 1. Jeffery hasn’t played since Dec. 9, 2019 after undergoing Lisfranc surgery.

The elephant in the room has been the Eagles’ decision not to place Jeffery on the PUP list coming out of training camp. By doing so, he would have automatically been out for the first six weeks. But they thought Jeffery was ahead of schedule in his recovery, obviously, that hasn’t worked out. Head coach Doug Pederson described the thought process behind that decision and offered no regrets.

“He’s done some individual work and now he’s into practice,” Pederson told reporters on Oct. 16. “I mean, listen, I think medically Alshon’s case, our case, we were hopeful that within the six weeks he would have been back. I can’t second-guess the decision, obviously, but he is getting close, and we’re excited about that.”

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Ertz  Hits IR,  TE Could Be Out Six Weeks

Garafolo dropped another interesting nugget in his appearance on “Good Morning Football” when he extended a “firm timeline” for Zach Ertz. The three-time Pro Bowl tight end was originally expected to miss three to four weeks, per ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, with a high-ankle sprain.

UPDATE: The Eagles placed Ertz on the Reserve/Injured list on Thursday morning, so he’ll miss at least three games. The team also activated guard/tackle Matt Pryor from the Reserve/COVID-19 list and signed veteran guard Jamon Brown to their practice squad. Brown and veteran defensive tackle T.Y. McGill were immediately elevated to the practice squad.

Now it appears Ertz could miss up to six weeks and wouldn’t play until Dec. 6 versus Green Bay. That’s the worst-case scenario for Ertz. He’s more likely to return on Nov. 22 against the Browns, although Garafolo referenced Ertz’s ongoing contract dispute as a factor in delaying his return.

Remember, Ertz sat out a few training camp practices because of an undisclosed “upper-body” injury that some speculated had to do with his contract negotiations. Why would the 29-year-old starter — Ertz will turn 30 on Nov. 10 — risk injuring himself further without a new deal signed? He wouldn’t.

“He’s going to want to look to being 100% before he thinks about coming back,” Garafolo said.

Eagles Down Key Starters for Extended Time

The Eagles officially ruled six players out for Thursday night including T Jack Driscoll, TE Zach Ertz (ankle), WR Alshon Jeffery (calf, foot), DT Malik Jackson (quadriceps), S K’Von Wallace (shoulder), RB Miles Sanders (knee).

The team has gotten used to playing without Jeffery and Driscoll is a rookie, but the losses of Ertz, Sanders, and Jackson loom large. Those three are key starters on both sides of the ball.

Pederson wouldn’t provide a timetable for a return on any of them. He never does. However, he left the door open for them to get back ahead of schedule. There is one other option: the Eagles could choose to place someone on IR where they would have to miss at least three games. Ertz was already placed on IR.

“All three of those guys will definitely miss this week,” Pederson said of Ertz, Sanders, Jackson. “We’ll see where they’re at. We got some time now before we play our next opponent. We get time to kind of rest and heal some of these guys. We’ll evaluate that again next Wednesday when we get back on the practice field.”

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