By Kevin McGuire
If the Philadelphia Eagles were hoping to add some quality depth to the running game this weekend on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals, too bad. Running back Ryan Mathews has been ruled out of action for Sunday’s game in Cincinnati and he continues to work his way back from a knee injury. Right tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai has also been ruled out due to a knee injury. There was some potentially good news released on the injury report before the Eagles leave town this weekend: Wide receiver Jordan Matthews was listed as questionable for Sunday.
Eagles Without Leading Rusher
Mathews remains the Eagles’ leading rusher this season with 427 rushing yards in 10 games played this season. He has also accounted for seven rushing touchdowns. Mathews did not practice all week, so it remains unknown just how soon he may be able to return to the Eagles offense.
As Matthews remains out of action, the Eagles will continue handing the ball off to Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood. Smallwood touched the football 10 times in Monday night’s loss to the Green Bay Packers, but the rookie appeared to show the coaches do not need to hesitate getting him involved in the offense. Smallwood rushed for 37 yards and caught one pass for a 10-yard gain against the Packers. Expect about the same amount of production out of him once again this week, and hope for a solid showing from Sproles. Sproles and Smallwood have the ability to break a big play if they have some room to work with, but neither is considered a lethal running threat otherwise.
Barbe To Fill In For Vaitai
Vaitai also did not practice at all this week, which means Allen Barbre is the next man up for the Eagles. Barbre has been the main backup as the Eagles have had to shuffle the offensive line a bit this season in part due to the suspension of Lane Johnson. Barbre was originally playing left guard, but Stefen Wisniewski has helped fill the void on the line since joining the team.
Simply put, the offensive line is a bit of a mess right now, and they will have to pull it together to hold off a struggling Bengals defense that may be a bit antsy and desperate to make some plays against a rookie quarterback.
Jordan Matthews Questionable
While Jordan Matthews being listed as questionable seems like good news, his status for Sunday is really up in the air. Matthews did not practice on Friday or Wednesday, and he was limited on Thursday as he comes off an ankle injury. There is confidence that Matthews may not need as many practice reps leading up to the game though, as he is clearly the best weapon in the Eagles’ passing game this season.
The Eagles may also have Nelson Agholor back in the lineup after a brief mental break. But Agholor’s return to the offense is not nearly as impactful as the possible return of Matthews. If Matthews is available, he gives Carson Wentz a typically sturdy option to rely on, in addition to tight end Zach Ertz.
- RB Ryan Mathews (knee)
- OT (knee)
- WR Jordan Matthews (ankle)