By Kevin McGuire
The Philadelphia Eagles will welcome back one defensive back while likely being without another when they open the 2013 home schedule at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday against the San Diego Chargers. Brandon Hughes should be back on the field this week after missing the season opener due to a hand injury, but Bradley Fletcher has been ruled out this weekend after suffering a concussion on Monday night against Washington. Other than the swap of defensive backs on the injury list this week, the Eagles look to be in good shape for their home debut this weekend against the Chargers.
Fletcher did not practice at all this week after suffering a concussion during the Monday night victory in Washington. It is believed Fletcher suffered the head injury during a collision with a teammate in the fourth quarter as the Redskins were starting to make the Eagles defense work a little harder. Fletcher got the start for the Eagles at defensive back last week, so the Eagles will have a starting job to fill Sunday afternoon. One of their options could be Hughes, who returns after missing week one’s game with a hand injury. Hughes played in full practices this week and should be ready to play.
The more likely option could be to give Brandon Boykin a chance to start at defensive back. The Eagles have been working Boykin inside so he may be a more natural fit in Fletcher’s absence. Having to make these adjustments could be a concern against San Diego because Philip Rivers is a quarterback who can take advantage of a scrambling secondary. If the Eagles secondary does not try to overcompensate for the loss of a starter, they may be OK but this is also a unit that is forming an identity in a new defensive system.
The Eagles also announced that offensive tackle Dennis Kelly will be out for another week. Kelly continues to rehab from a back injury that has kept him limited in practices this week. He was not expected to be available given his limited availability so far and sat out the season opener in Washington. Kelly’s absence should not be too much of a setback for the Eagles, although having an extra lineman or two available may come in handy at some point this season if the up-tempo style is to continue.
Fortunately for the Eagles, the offensive line played well in the season opener and looked much improved over the bandaged line that played in 2012. The Eagles will have the same line available this weekend against San Diego, with Jason Peters, Evan Mathis, Jason Kelce, Todd Herremans and Lane Johnson lining up from left to right. That line helped LeSean McCoy easily pick up 184 rushing yards and allowed quarterback Mike Vick to do some damage running as well. The Eagles ground game had huge lanes to work with against Washington and that could open things up against San Diego as well. The Chargers allowed 120 rushing yards to the Houston Texans on Monday night.
CB Brandon Hughes (Hand)
CB Bradley Fletcher (concussion)
OT Dennis Kelly (back)
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Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.