The Philadelphia Eagles are preparing for a short week as they welcome the Minnesota Vikings to town on Thursday for their first home game of 2023. They're doing so knowing they'll likely be without three of their starters in just their second game of the season.
Running back Kenneth Gainwell nor cornerback James Bradberry are expected to play, as they deal with a rib injury and a concussion, according to Mike Garafolo. Gainwell was Philly's leading rusher in Week 1, gaining 54 yards on 14 carries. No other Eagles running back had multiple carries, as D'Andre Swift and Boston Scott each had one carry.
Bradberry is a starting corner and was second-team All-Pro last season. He suffered the head injury late in the Week 1 win, in which he allowed three catches for 38 yards and a touchdown. The Eagles have some depth at the cornerback position, though the room is full of inexperienced players, albeit talented ones.
The likely candidates to start in place of Bradberry are Josh Jobe and Kelee Ringo. Jobe played in 11 games for the Eagles last season, while Ringo, the rookie, impressed in camp but saw no defensive snaps in Week 1.
Bradberry may not be the only one out for the Eagles secondary, as safety Reed Blankenship is nursing a rib injury and may not be available Thursday night. The Eagles have another rookie, Sydney Brown, waiting to get his opportunity and could start at safety if Blankenship can’t go.
There is some good news for Philly though, as defensive tackle Fletcher Cox should be ready to go. He did not practice on Monday but participated in a limited capacity on Tuesday. The six-time Pro Bowler will be on the field for his 12th home opener with the Eagles.
What this news means for Philly
The Eagles lost a lot of pieces from the defense during the offseason. Six starters left via free agency and Philly had to pick up the pieces and remain an elite defensive unit in the face of Super Bowl expectations. The Eagles' defense played fairly well against the New England Patriots but had mistakes that led to points for the opposition.
Without Braberry and/or Blankenship, Philly's secondary could be exposed by Minnesota's burners on the outside. Darius Slay will likely be on Justin Jefferson for most of the game, but rookie Jordan Addison is a threat as well.
The Eagles will have a lot of inexperience in the defensive backfield, but players that they've identified as impact pieces for this season and beyond. They'll be tested on a short week but will have the Philly crowd behind them to give them an extra boost.
As for the running backs, the Eagles will probably activate Rashaad Penny for the game, putting him alongside Swift and Scott. Swift will likely get the bulk of the carries, though all three should get their fair share of touches.