Howard Rests Cranky Knee as Phils Look for Rare Pittsburgh Series Win

Howard Rests Cranky Knee as Phils Look for Rare Pittsburgh Series Win

The Phils found some rare luck in Pittsburgh last night when they snapped the Pirates' nine-game win streak. They'll have two chances to take the series from our state rival tonight and during the day tomorrow. They'll have to do it with Ryan Howard on the bench this evening who is battling some knee pain.

Howard may have aggravated it when he put on the burners to score from first on a Delmon Young ball in the gap to cap off the three-run sixth that would eventually earn them the victory. While it may not be the most fluid thing in the world, watching the Big Piece truck is certainly something (video).

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As CSN points out, this will be the third time in the last five games that Howard is not in the lineup. Hopefully a little rest will do him well.

Tonight's pitching matchup pits John Lannan against lefty Jeff Locke who is an impressive 7-1 with a 2.06 ERA on the season.

As for the Phils' futility at PNC:

Despite their win last night, Philadelphia is just 15-24 (.385) against the Pirates in Pittsburgh since PNC Park opened in 2001 ... The Phils have not won a series in Pittsburgh since April 25-27, 2008, and have lost each of their last four series here (4-9 in 13 games since 2009) ... Strangely, however, the Phillies have scored just two runs less than the Pirates in their 39 games all-time at PNC (168-170) ... Philadelphia’s starters are just 12-17 with a 4.09 ERA (104 ER,228.2 IP) at PNC over that span.

Don't forget the series will wrap up during the day tomorrow, so you can enjoy the Phils' radio broadcast at 1:35 while you lay on the beach. The Phils then come home for a nice long homestand that kicks off against the rival Braves. It's crunch time in South Philly.

Safety Malcolm Jenkins ready to man the slot with Ron Brooks out

Safety Malcolm Jenkins ready to man the slot with Ron Brooks out

With slot cornerback Ron Brooks out for the year, the Eagles have a big hole in their secondary.

And safety Malcolm Jenkins is happy to fill it.

Jenkins, the Eagles’ Pro Bowl safety, said he hopes to replace Brooks as the Eagles’ slot corner. Brooks went on injured reserve Monday after rupturing his quad during the win over the Vikings Sunday.

Jenkins spoke Monday evening on CSN's Quick Slants from his Malcolm Jenkins Foundation fundraiser at Union Trust.

“I played 60 percent of my snaps last year in the slot so it's a position that I'm very, very comfortable with and that I prefer as opposed to playing deep,” Jenkins said. “So I'm comfortable in that role.”

With Brooks out, the Eagles are thin at cornerback, with only Nolan Carroll, Leodis McKelvin and rookies Jalen Mills and recently activated C.J. Smith.

Carroll can play in the slot, but Doug Pederson indicated Monday that he’s leaning toward using Jenkins to cover the opposing slot receiver, like he did Sunday, after Brooks got hurt.

“Yeah, I would think that it would be very similar to what we've seen with Jalen on the outside and then Malcolm coming down inside and playing the nickel spot, and Jaylen Watkins being back there a little bit.

“And with Leo being healthy now, (it) gives you a little more depth. But we've got to continue to look at getting C.J. some more reps probably during the week to have a full complement of secondary help.”

Mills is a rookie seventh-round pick, and Smith is an undrafted rookie who spent the first seven weeks of the season on the practice squad.

McKelvin has missed three games this year but appears healthy now. Mills started Sunday but McKelvin played the bulk of the snaps.

Sunday will present a huge challenge for whoever mans the spot since Cowboys slot receiver Cole Beasley is so dangerous. He’s the Cowboys’ leading receiver with 33 catches for 390 yards and three touchdowns.

Beasley caught nine passes for a career-high 112 yards against the Eagles in the second meeting last year. He’s one of six receivers in the league this year with at least 50 yards in six games.

Jenkins said there are a number of ways the Eagles can defend the slot this weekend in Dallas.

“Now that we’ve got Leodis McKelvin back, it's another option,” he said. “We could put Jalen Mills in there. Just basically depends on matchups and what we want to do.

“I think the coaching staff right now is weighing those options and we'll see [Tuesday] or Wednesday what that package is really gonna look like.”

Brooks played 228 snaps in the Eagles’ first five games, or about 46 per game. That was fourth-most in the secondary before he got hurt.

“It's a tough loss,” Jenkins said. “But we've got so many guys that are interchangeable on our defense that it won't affect anything that we're doing.”

Flyers recall forward Taylor Leier from Lehigh Valley

Flyers recall forward Taylor Leier from Lehigh Valley

The Flyers on Tuesday made an unexpected roster move as they have recalled forward Taylor Leier from the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, general manager Ron Hextall announced. The 22-year-old will be available for Tuesday night's game against the visiting Buffalo Sabres (see game notes).

Now the question is why the call-up?

There were no reports of injuries following Monday's 3-1 loss to the Canadiens. But knowing the secretive nature of hockey injuries, it's possible a Flyer was indeed nicked up in Montreal.

It's also entirely possible that the upper-body injury to Michael Raffl, who hasn't played in a week's time since leaving the 7-4 loss to the Blackhawks in Chicago, is more serious than originally thought and needs more time to heal. The Flyers could place Raffl on long-term injury reserve retroactive to last Tuesday. That would free up a roster spot and make room for Leier.

This will not be Leier's first stint with the Flyers. Along with Shayne Gostisbehere, he was called up last November and made his debut in a Nov. 14 win in Carolina. He played six games in the NHL before he was sent back down to Lehigh Valley for the rest of season. He did not record a point with the Flyers last season and averaged 7:43 of ice time a night.

In three games with the Phantoms this season, the 2012 fourth-round draft pick of the Flyers has three assists. He scored 20 goals for the Phantoms last season, including a team-high 10 power-play goals.

Leier will wear No. 58 for the Flyers. It remains to be seen if he will crack Tuesday's lineup.