Updated: 4:11 p.m.
A key storyline leading up to the Eagles' playoff showdown with the Saints has been the health of rookie safety Earl Wolff.
"He's a difference-maker in that if he goes out and plays average, he's better than Patrick Chung, so that's why he's a difference-maker," CSNPhilly.com columnist Reuben Frank said on the Thursday edition of Philly Sports Talk. "If he just goes out there and plays mediocre, it's an upgrade, that's why he's got to play."
Wolff is battling a knee injury that has kept him out five of the past six games. When healthy, Wolff began seeing increased playing time over the struggling Chung, who the Eagles signed in the offseason to start at free safety.
"I know that Patrick missed a tackle on Dez Bryant the other night. I think he's played solid," PhiladelphiaEagles.com's Dave Spadaro countered. "When you look at the success of a defense, it's a collaborative effort, and Patrick's played in that collaborative effort — lining up players, being in the right spot. The Eagles haven't given up a lot of deep balls, they certainly did against Minnesota and then he gave up the play against Dez Bryant, which is a really hard play — zero blitz with a safety in the middle of the field against Dez Bryant, who's a beast.
"I don't mind having Patrick and his experience back there in a playoff game."
Wolff did not practice Wednesday but remained optimistic that he could give it a go on Saturday, saying his chances of playing are "pretty high," (see story). On Friday, the Eagles listed him as questionable (see story).
"There's a reason Earl Wolff has taken Patrick Chung's playing time when he was healthy," Frank said. "He's around the ball, I think he's a better tackler, I think he's a more sound player right now. Listen, he's not an all-pro by any means, but I'd rather have Earl Wolff out there certainly than Patrick Chung."
Is a Wolff a legitimate difference-maker as a rookie going up against Drew Brees and the Saints?
"He's getting better. I'm not willing to put him up on that mantle of difference-maker yet," Spadaro said. "I think he's progressed as a rookie. He's got to practice [Friday] or he will not play on Saturday. He hasn't practiced this week, [Thursday] was a walkthrough, so I think it's still very much in question whether Earl Wolff plays."