By Kevin McGuire
The Philadelphia Eagles have a short week to prepare for a Thursday night showdown with NFC East rival New York, so the return of offensive lineman Lane Johnson comes at a good time for the offensive line. Johnson sliding right back into the starting lineup on the offensive line means some banged up linemen can get a little reprieve, with three linemen appearing on the injury report as questionable this week. Wide receiver Jordan Matthews is also questionable and running back Darren Sproles returns from a concussion.
Allen Barbre, Isaac Seumalo and Halapoulivaati Vaitai are all officially questionable for the Thursday night tilt at home with the Giants. Barbre is working through a hamstring injury this week, but he was able to give it a go for full practices all week coming off Sunday’s game against Baltimore. He should be available for the Eagles and is expected to return to left guard this week. With Barbre returning to his more common position, the Eagles can use Stefen Wisniewski as a backup option to add some depth on the line.
Vaitai has been working his way back to full strength from a knee injury. Vaitai has been a full practice participant all week, which would appear to be a positive sign for his potential status for Thursday night. Seumalo has worked through an ankle injury and was limited in practice on Tuesday but a full participant the rest of the short week.
Johnson is returning to the team from a 10-game suspension for taking a performance enhancing drug on the NFL’s banned substance list. While he should be pretty fresh, the question is how up-to-speed he may be after the 10-game suspension as he digs in against the Giants’ defensive line. Regardless of how quickly he adjusts to playing in a game, having him back on the line helps out the entire line this week.
Also questionable this week is wide receiver Jordan Matthews. Matthews continues to play through an ankle injury, but he was a full practice participant each day of the shortened practice week and should be counted on to be in the lineup for the Eagles on Thursday night. Matthews is Philadelphia’s leading receiver with 792 receiving yards and three touchdowns. Earlier this season against the Giants, Matthews accounted for six receptions for 88 yards. Getting Matthews involved will be a key, of course, for the Eagles offense. With a potentially more stable offensive line blocking and protecting for rookie quarterback Carson Wentz (who continues his search for his first NFC East Division win), there may be a chance to get the ball in the hands of Matthews to make some plays.
Sproles did not play last week in Baltimore due to a concussion suffered the previous week against Washington. He is expected to play Thursday night and continue his normal role on the team on offense and special teams. He was a full practice participant all week.
- OL Allen Barbre (hamstring)
- WR Jordan Matthews (ankle)
- OG Isaac Seumalo (ankle)
- OT Halapoulivaati Vaitai (knee)