February 6, 2023

3 storylines as Eagles try to stay in NFC East race vs. Raiders

Photo by Kirby Lee/USA TODAY Sports

It’s already week seven. The Eagles are running out of time to stay in the NFC East race — even though it looks like Dallas is pulling away with it, but they could pull a Dallas and lose it all.

The Birds’ll try and stay in the race Sunday afternoon in Las Vegas against the Raiders.

Eagles’ inactives:

  • S Anthony Harris (hands/groin)
  • C/G Jack Anderson (hamstring)
  • QB Gardner Minshew
  • DT Marlon Tuipulotu 
  • CB Tay Gowan
  • CB Mac McCain
  • G Sua Opeta

Raiders’ inactives:

  • TE Darren Waller — this star tight end being out is a huge loss for Vegas. This unexpected loss is in the Eagles’ favor as Waller is the key target in the Raiders’ passing attack.
  • QB Nathan Peterman
  • CB Amik Robertson
  • RB Peyton Barber
  • DE Malcolm Koonce
  • OT Jackson Barton

Here’s three storylines.

Harris ruled out

The Eagles on Saturday evening ruled starting safety Anthony Harris out for Sunday.

Harris was listed as questionable with a groin injury and injuries to both hands suffered in the Eagles’ loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers nine days ago at Lincoln Financial Field.

He practiced on a limited basis Thursday but did not practice Wednesday or Friday.

Harris had been the only member of the Eagles’ defense to play every snap in the first five games before he got hurt.

The Eagles played their first three games this year without their other starting safety, Rodney McLeod, who was still rehabbing following knee surgery last December.

Marcus Epps started the opener in place of McLeod, but after he suffered a concussion K’Von Wallace started the next two. Wallace is currently on Injured Reserve with a shoulder injury.

Assuming McLeod and Epps start Sunday, they will be the Eagles’ fourth different starting safety duo in seven games.

Harris, 30, is in his first year with the Eagles after six seasons with the Minnesot Vikings. He had 39 tackles and an interception in his first five games.

The Eagles have very little depth at safety behind McLeod and Epps.

With Harris and Wallace out, the Eagles elevated Elijah Riley from the practice squad earlier Saturday. Riley played special teams in five games for the Eagles last year as an undrafted rookie but hasn’t played yet this year.

Slot corner Avonte Maddox can also play safety in an emergency.

Johnson returns

Lane Johnson will return to action Sunday after a three-game exit, head coach Nick Sirianni said Friday.

Johnson left the team just hours before a home game against the Kansas Chiefs on October 3 and revealed on Monday that he needed time to deal with depression and anxiety.

He rejoined the team earlier this week and returned to practice on Wednesday on a limited basis. He was a full participant on Thursday and Friday.

Sirianni said Johnson looked good this week and is ready to go.

“I thought it went well,” he said. “He had a good week of practice and we’ll be expecting him to play and start at right tackle.”

Johnson, 30, made the Pro Bowl in 2017, 2018, and 2019 and was a first-team all-pro in 2017. He’s missed 32 games in his nine seasons, including four in 2014 and 10 in 2016 because of positive tests for a banned substance and nine last year because of a lingering ankle injury.

Johnson was limited at practice the Wednesday before the Chiefs game because of ankle soreness, but Sirianni said this week it’s not an issue.

“We’re not concerned right there with that at this particular time,” he said.

In Johnson’s place, Jack Driscoll started at right tackle against the Chiefs with Andre Dillard at left tackle. When Jordan Mailata returned from a two-game layoff with a knee injury, Driscoll moved inside to right guard, and Mailata played right tackle. With Johnson back, the Eagles are expected to line up Mailata at left tackle, Landon Dickerson at left guard, Jason Kelce at center, Driscoll at right guard, and Johnson back at right tackle.

It will be their fifth starting offensive line in seven games this year and 19th in 23 games over the last two years. It will also be the first time Driscoll has played next to Johnson.

“We’re super glad Lane’s back,” Driscoll said. “You see what he’s able to do on the field, he’s one of the best tackles – if not the best tackle, so it’s great to have him back, just in the meeting room helping the young guys out, it’s just a huge boost.”

On the Raiders side…

The following is from winnersandwhiners.com on an inside look on Vegas:

Following the sudden resignation of head coach Jon Gruden just a few days before, the Raiders turned in a strong all-around effort on Sunday to beat the Broncos while snapping a two-game losing streak. Henry Ruggs III capped off Las Vegas’ opening drive with a 48-yard touchdown catch and the Raiders were rolling early in the third thanks to a pair of Kenyan Drake scores on either side of halftime, with Denver only getting within 10 later in garbage time.
Derek Carr turned in another efficient outing, completing 18 of 27 passes for 341 yards and two touchdowns. Josh Jacobs carried the ball 16 times for 53 yards and a score, while Ruggs III reeled in three catches for 97 yards and the long touchdown. While Las Vegas finished with just a 426-421 advantage in total yards, the Broncos were undone by turning the ball over four times.

“These guys we have in this building are resilient, from the coaching staff to the players to the trainers, everybody has a positive outlook on this organization. Everyone’s talking, ‘What are the Raiders going to do? Is the season over?’ We’ve heard all of it. For us to have a great week of practice and go out there and play good football, it’s a testament to all these guys in the locker room,” star defensive end Maxx Crosby told the Associated Press.

The Raiders are an even 3-3 against the spread, including outright wins over the Broncos, Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers as an underdog. Overs are also 3-3 for Las Vegas after last Sunday’s game went comfortably over the betting total of 45 points to snap a run of two straight unders.

Las Vegas has managed a solid offense so far with an average of 24.5 points and 385.1 yards per game despite playing some tough opposing defenses in the early going. After putting up some of the worst defensive numbers in the NFL last year, the Raiders are closer to average this season with 24 points and 353.3 yards per contest allowed.

Carr has generally played well, completing 149 of 232 passes for 1,946 yards, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions. Jacobs has managed just 175 yards on 54 carries while dealing with injuries although he has scored four times, while Ruggs III is having a breakout campaign with 20 receptions for 445 yards and two touchdowns. Crosby could be headed for an All-Pro season with 16 tackles including four for a loss, five sacks, two pass breakups and a whopping 18 quarterback hits already.
While Las Vegas had a staggering 17 players on the injury report, most are expected to suit up, as defensive tackle Quinton Jefferson (personal) and tight end Nick Bowers (neck) were the only ones to miss Thursday’s practice. Safety Dallin Leavitt is questionable after being limited with a quad injury. The secondary is missing some key pieces, as Damon Arnette (groin), Trayvon Mullen Jr. (toe) and Roderic Teamer (shoulder) all hit injured reserve over the last 10 days. Guards Richie Incognito (calf) and Denzelle Good (knee) are also sidelined. Defensive tackle Gerald McCoy is serving a six-game suspension for PEDs.


When: 4:05pm ET
Where: Allegiant Stadium, Las Vegas, NV
Broadcast: FOX
Radio: 94.1 WIP

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