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Impact of Wolff and Kendricks injuries
GREEN BAY, Wisc. -- They were already without cornerback Bradley Fletcher and quarterback Michael Vick before three more Eagles starters went down early against Green Bay (see story).
Inside linebacker Mychal Kendricks was first, exiting the field with a knee injury that forced him out of the game. Then came Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, who left to be examined for a head injury, came back, then left again after injuring his quad. Finally, rookie safety Earl Wolff came out with a knee injury and never returned.
In a 10-minute, six-second span of the first quarter, the Eagles were down to reserves at three more major positions, two within a 55-second period.
“I think it speaks a lot about the depth,” said head coach Chip Kelly, who watched his team respond with a 13-point win over the Packers, a 27-13 triumph at Lambeau Field (see story). “And you have to have it."
“It’s a tough, hard-nosed, physical game and everybody needs to be ready to play at any point in time. When you only have 46 active on gameday, you’ve got to go and that’s what the deal is all about. But I thought the guys stepped up and came in [and] did a really nice job.”
The Eagles didn’t miss a beat offensively, even after Allen Barbre replaced Peters at left tackle (see 10 observations). One play after Barbre spelled Peters for the first time, Nick Foles launched a somewhat-lucky 55-yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson that first tipped off cornerback Tramon Williams’ hands.
With Barbre anchoring the offensive line, LeSean McCoy rushed for 155 yards, his most in four weeks and third-highest total of the season. Only one of Foles’ three sacks came with Barbre in the game and the offense still churned out 415 yards.
With Najee Goode spelling Kendricks, who had 17 tackles last Sunday against the Raiders, the Eagles held running back Eddie Lacy to 73 yards, his lowest rushing total in six weeks, and a 3.0 yards-per-carry average, his lowest since the season opener (see story).
With Roc Carmichael seeing the most snaps of his career in Fletcher’s right cornerback spot, and with Patrick Chung filling in for Wolff, the Eagles allowed just one pass for more than 30 yards.
“We had three injuries and nobody even missed a beat or started freaking out or anything,” linebacker Connor Barwin said. “I think that says a lot about the character of our team.”
In fairness, the Packers were also shorthanded.
They had their hopes pinned on backup quarterback Seneca Wallace, just the fourth different quarterback to start for Green Bay since 1993, before going to Scott Tolzien after Wallace injured his groin on his first possession and Pro Bowl linebacker Clay Matthews played with his mending hand wrapped. Green Bay also lost two offensive linemen during the course of the game.
“We had a lot of guys go down, and the coaches were scrambling on the sidelines,” Packers coach Mike McCarthy said. “It happens. We had guys going in and out on defense. However, the Philadelphia Eagles had a lot of injuries, too. That’s the game of football.”
No updates on Kendricks, Kelly and Wolff were available after the game. Kelly should have more information Monday.
Peters is the biggest question mark. He was already nursing shoulder, finger and pectoral injuries before the head and quad injuries. Kendricks and Wolff were each able to get up and walk off the field, although Kendricks’ injury looked more severe. Two members of the medical staff helped the second-year linebacker off the field.
The Eagles have stayed relatively healthy this year, especially after losing three players in training camp to ACL injuries, including starting receiver Jeremy Maclin. Fletcher, who injured his pectoral muscle last Sunday against Oakland, became just the third starter to miss a game this year, joining Vick and Chung.
At one point against Green Bay, the Eagles were playing with four reserves who weren’t on the team last year (Barbre, Carmichael, Chung and Goode). Two of those four (Carmichael and Goode) weren’t even with the Eagles in training camp.
“I guess you just trust the guys that are out there,” Barwin said. “I’ve been out there with Najee. Played with Roc before (in Houston). Pat’s been a starter in this league. Our defensive mentality is we stay steady, do our job.”