Eagles Injury Updates: Patterson Activated, Allen Questionable, Sproles Out

Eagles Injury Updates: Patterson Activated, Allen Questionable, Sproles Out

Less than one year after undergoing brain surgery, Mike Patterson will return to the football field on Monday night. Also, Nate Allen is questionable with a hamstring injury, which could spell trouble for a reeling defense going up against Drew Brees.

Patterson was activated off of the non-football injury list on Sunday, where he was placed since the beginning of training camp. The defensive tackle's surgery in January involved a procedure known as a crainiotomy -- temporarily removing the top of the skull to access the brain. Doctors were concerned the bone had not fully healed, and he was not cleared to play. At some point in the past month or so, Patt got the OK, and he began practicing with the team last week.

His timing might prove impeccable. The defensive line has obviously struggled, particularly with getting pressure on opposing quarterbacks. While Patterson isn't a big penetrator, his presence might help, and it is notable his absence is the only missing ingredient from last season's 46-sack effort. But if nothing else, it should keep the other guys a little fresher.

Cullen Jenkins also happens to be questionable for this week's game, so if he can't go, Patterson's return will be even more meaningful. The Eagles released linebacker Jason Williams, a special teams contributor, to free up a spot on the 53-man roster.

Patterson's surgery stems from an incident back at Lehigh in 2011, when he suddenly suffered a seizure on the practice field. The 29 year old was diagnosed with a condition known as an AVM, which could loosely be described as a tangling of arteries and veins in the brain. The symptoms were manageable with medication, which is why he was able to play in 15 games last year, but doctors were able to correct the problem with surgery.

Meanwhile, Nate Allen came down with a hamstring injury during the week, and as of now the safety looks like a game-time decision. If he can't go, David Sims is expected to start in his place, and any issue in the secondary is magnified in a contest against the Saints. Drew Brees is only the most prolific quarterback in the NFL. What could possibly go wrong?

A lot went wrong when Allen came out of the Eagles' Week 6 loss to the Detroit Lions. Colt Anderson replaced Allen in that game, and the Lions suddenly became an offensive juggernaut. A breakdown of the All-22 showed then-defensive coordinator Juan Castillo went away from mixing up his coverage schemes, opting for the same two or three looks from the secondary the rest of the way. The concern appeared to be that the defense had no substitute for Allen, and could no longer execute their game plan. Castillo was the next day.

The reality is the Birds are extremely thin at secondary. They tried to make it work with 2011 second-round pick Jaiquawn Jarrett, but decided to cut their losses one week into this season. They also signed O.J. Atogwe over the summer, but he was unable to stay healthy, and was released after camp.

The Eagles acquired Sims from the Browns in a trade on cut-down day in exchange for a conditional draft pick. An undrafted free agent, the 5-9 Sims spent last season with Cleveland, but did not play. He's appeared in six games for the Eagles, all on special teams. We asked Scott Sargent from the Cleveland sports blog Waiting for Next Year about the 26-year-old safety back in September:

David Sims made a ton of fans in Cleveland over the course of the preseason... A constant effort guy, he seems to always be around the ball. Granted, he made most of his impact against NFL reserves, but the kid undoubtedly belongs in the league... I can't guarantee he'll make an impact for you guys early on, but I would certainly not have much concern if he's forced into action.

Against the Saints though? Be concerned. Be afraid even. Brees has dissected better safeties than Nate Allen, but that means he's taken apart far better and more experienced than Sims, too.

But on a positive note for the Birds, Brees will be without one of his most dangerous weapons. Darren Sproles is out with a broken hand, leaving the Saints without their biggest weapon out of the backfield.

Sproles set an NFL record with an outrageous 2,696 yards all-purpose yards -- rushing, receiving, and returning kicks, and added 10 touchdowns. He's only carried the ball 26 times this season, so he's hardly even a running back, but he already had 39 catches for 323 yards and four TD. Big loss for the Saints, although not enough of one that the Eagles can breathe a sigh of relief, either.

Nerlens Noel excited for impending return to game action

Nerlens Noel excited for impending return to game action

NEW ORLEANS -- The weeks and months have quickly piled up. Nerlens Noel has not played an NBA regular-season game since last season ended for the Sixers on April 13. Nearly eight months later, Noel is nearing the return he has been eyeing for quite some time now. 

“It’s always an excitement to be able to play basketball after this amount of time, including the summer, not being able to play organized basketball at a competitive level,” Noel said Thursday. “I’ve been really looking forward to this. I think I’ve gained some momentum coming back from this minor surgery, and I think I’m in a really good place and I’m feeling good with my body. Everything is on point.”

Noel has been sidelined since undergoing elective left knee surgery in October to address an inflamed plica. He traveled to New Orleans on Wednesday to join the Sixers ahead of their 99-88 win over the Pelicans (see game recap). Noel continued his rehab Thursday while the team prepped for the game. 

“I’ve been able do five-on-five, full contact,” Noel said. “I’ve tried to maximize my opportunities of that with the team being gone on the road. I came down here and went through most of shootaround and it went well. Now these next couple of days, [I will be] going through practice, still working on my wind. I do like where I’m at now.”

The Sixers’ next game is Sunday against the Pistons in Detroit. Brett Brown had given Noel’s availability for that game a “maybe” (see story)

“I’m not sure,” Noel said of playing Sunday. “I’m ready to go with these next couple of days and see how my wind feels and how my body feels, which I have been feeling good. So it’s a possibility.”

When Noel does return, there is a scenario in which he could be paired with center Joel Embiid. Last year, the Sixers struggled finding the best way to utilize Noel and Jahlil Okafor, also a center, at the same time playing the four and five positions. As Okafor has said of playing with Embiid, Noel also believes his off-the-court friendship with the towering rookie would translate onto the court. 

“I think it would be something that’s experimented,” Noel said. “It’d definitely be interesting.”

Noel candidly expressed his opinion of the Sixers’ logjammed frontcourt at the start of the season. Since speaking to the media after his surgery, Noel has mentioned he is in a good mental place (see story). For him, that means being out on the court again. 

“I love myself and I love the game of basketball,” Noel said. “When I step out here to come and play, it just brings a lot of enjoyment and excitement to me. Regardless of what the details of it are, I just love the game and I’m happy to just be playing.”

Best of NHL: Flames edge Coyotes in OT for fifth straight win

Best of NHL: Flames edge Coyotes in OT for fifth straight win

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Dougie Hamilton scored 1:09 into overtime, Chad Johnson stopped 27 shots and the Calgary Flames beat the Arizona Coyotes 2-1 on Thursday night.

Mark Giordano scored for the Flames in a chippy game filled with big hits and multiple fights.

Hamilton capped a fast-paced overtime by deking Arizona's Mike Smith with a forehand before flipping in a backhander. Calgary has won five straight and eight of 11 (8-2-1).

Max Domi scored before leaving with an upper-body injury and Smith stopped 33 shots for the Coyotes, who have lost six straight and 11 of 14 (3-7-4).

Arizona captain Shane Doan became Arizona's all-time assist leader and is the fifth player in NHL history to own his team's records for games played, goals, assists, points, game-winning goals and power-play goals (see full recap).

Crosby, Penguins roll over Panthers
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Sidney Crosby got his 18th goal and added an assist to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Florida Panthers 5-1 on Thursday night.

Conor Sheary, Tom Kuhnhackl, Matt Cullen and Carl Hagelin also scored for Pittsburgh. Matt Murray made 28 saves.

The Penguins have won four straight and five of their past six.

Jaromir Jagr scored his 755th career goal, and Roberto Luongo stopped 25 shots for the Panthers. Luongo allowed three goals on Pittsburgh's first five shots.

Panthers coach Tom Rowe, who replaced Gerard Gallant on Nov. 28, made his home debut. The Panthers have lost five of six under Rowe, but managed a point in three of those losses (see full recap).

Price loses cool as Habs beat Devils
MONTREAL -- Carey Price lost his temper after being bumped twice in his crease and made 19 saves to help the Montreal Canadiens beat the New Jersey Devils 5-2 on Thursday night.

Torrey Mitchell scored twice and Phillip Danault, Artturi Lehkonen and Max Pacioretty also had goals for the Canadiens in their return from a five-game trip.

Adam Henrique scored a goal and set up one by Taylor Hall for New Jersey, which ended a two-game winning streak.

Montreal had a season-high 49 shots on Cory Schneider.

A wild first period included three goals, four goal reviews and Price's meltdown (see full recap).