Eagles Make Christmas Eve Moves
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The Eagles made a host of Christmas Eve roster moves, waiving running back Jay Ajayi as expected and shutting down cornerback Ronald Darby for the season with a hip injury.
The Ajayi move was expected because Jordan Howard is ready to return from the shoulder/stinger issue that has cost the typically durable back the past six games. When Howard went down against his old team, the Chicago Bears on Nov. 3. he was Philadelphia's leading rusher with 525 yards on 119 carries and six touchdowns. Since then. rookie Miles Sanders has seized the lead-back position and leads the Eagles with 1,276 scrimmage yards -- 766 on the ground and 510 more receiving.
With two roster spots to work with Philadelphia brought back veteran tight end Richard Rodgers and also elevated receiver Deontay Burnett from the practice.
Rodgers was carted off with a torn plantar fascia during joint-practices with Baltimore back in training camp and was ultimately placed on injured reserve before the organization reached an injury settlement with him back on Sept. 11.
His return could be bad omen when it comes to Zach Ertz Sunday against the New York Giants. Ertz, Philadelphia's top receiving threat with 88 receptions for 916 yards and six touchdowns, broke a rib against Dallas and his status will be monitored this week.
"I think it’s too early to comment on that right now," offensive coordinator Mike Groh said of Ertz's status.
As for Burnett, he was signed to the practice squad on Dec. 12 and now gives Doug Pederson four options on the outside joining a group led by Greg Ward, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Rob Davis. Nelson Agholor remains on the roster but is still dealing with troublesome swelling in his knee.
"We're just trying to make decisions we think are in the best interest of the team that will help us win," Grog said of Burnett's promotion. "Deontay has come in and done a really nice job. He's shown up quite a bit in the practice squad stuff getting the defense ready, and he's a guy that's got some position versatility for how we're putting this game together and we think he'll do a really good job for us."
Burnett has a history with Josh McCown dating back to their time together with the New York Jets and credited the Eagles' backup QB for getting him comfortable with the offense so quickly.
Darby, who is scheduled to be a free agent in March, tweaked a hip-flexor injury in the 17-9 win over Dallas Sunday after playing only 11 snaps. All three of his seasons in Philadelphia have been affected by injuries, a dislocated ankle in 2017, a torn ACL last season and now the hip. Darby finishes 2019 having played in 11 games, amassing 47 tackles, two interceptions, and 11 pass breakups.
"We'll see the way it goes this week," defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said when asked about replacing Darby. "We have a lot of different combinations and a lot of different personnel groups that we can have ready."
Ajayi, a Super Bowl hero in 2017-18, was brought back on Nov. 15 to help alleviate the absences of Howard and Darren Sproles in the backfield but he didn't have the same burst after rehabbing from ACL surgery and finished with just 30 yards on 10 carries in three games.
To replace Burnett on the PS the Eagles signed receiver River Cracraft, a 6-foot, 198-pound Washington State product.
CHRISTMAS EVE SOUNDTRACKS:
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen