By Justin Adkins:
Yes, the Eagles beat the hated Cowboys Sunday night. Yes, the Eagles are 9-4 and dominating. But the victory feels almost as bittersweet as the Eagles winning with Jeff Garcia felt to Mama McNabb.
Middle linebacker Stewart Bradley has suffered a dislocated elbow and rookie defensive end Brandon Graham tore his ACL.
Bradley’s injury occurred in the second quarter while he rushed the passer. He landed awkwardly after trying to jump over a block, coming down hard on his right arm. His arm bent sideways at a cringe-inducing angle, and anyone who saw it knew it was going to be bad.
The good news is the bad news isn’t as bad as it initially seemed.
What looked like a season-ending injury has turned into a possibly regular season ending injury. Eagles coach Andy Reid has indicated that it’s possible Bradley will only miss a few weeks and that Bradley will not be placed on Injured Reserve, automatically ending his season.
“We are not going to put him on IR,” Reid said. “We have to get a feel on how long this thing takes.”
If that’s the case, the middle linebacker will miss the Eagles‘ final three games of the season, but could be back if the Eagles make the playoffs. And if the Eagles keep winning, Bradley could even have an extra week to heal if the team can secure a first round bye.
Replacing Bradley in the starting lineup is rookie seventh-round pick Jamar Chaney. Though Omar Gaither has been listed as Bradley’s backup, it’s the 6-0, 242 pounder out of Mississippi State that is getting the call.
“He wasn’t shy with his calls. He was accurate,” Reid said regarding Chaney’s play Sunday night. “He played physical football. His challenge now is that people have him on film, he will need to get it up another notch.”
Known for his speed, Chaney will have to step up to the big boy table right away if the Eagles defense wants to contribute to winning games down the stretch.
One piece of that defense that won’t be helping any further this season is first-round rookie defensive end Brandon Graham. The Michigan star suffered a torn ACL in his right knee, ending his season.
“That’s a tough thing,” Reid said, discussing Graham’s injury. “He’s got a positive outlook on it. He just wants to get done what needs to get done and get the rehab going and get back. ACL, especially the first one, they are tough rehab. You don’t know what to expect. You have to put a lost of trust in the trainers and the doctor. … He’s a tough kid. He will work through it and he’ll be back. He’s disappointed but upbeat.”
Graham had entered the season as a starter, supplanting veteran Juqua Parker. However, Parker re-claimed the starting job early on, and is having a solid, productive season, with Graham becoming more of a situational player. Against the Cowboys, Graham was only on the field for 28% of the plays before he was injured. In comparison, Parker played 72%.
Parker will likely play even more snaps going forward, though it’s possible little used rookie third-round pick Daniel Te’o-Nesheim will start seeing the field.
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