PHILADELPHIA – New England’s inactive list is noteworthy this week for a name that doesn’t appear on it. Rookie WR N’Keal Harry, the Patriots’ first-round draft choice this year, is set to make his NFL debut today in Philadelphia.
Harry, who’d been on injured reserve since the start of the season, was finally removed from the list against Baltimore two weeks ago, but was a healthy scratch from the 46-man game-day roster (meaning he wasn’t listed on the injury report that week).
Today, though, he’ll be in uniform, so, it’ll be intriguing to see how much action he sees offensively.
Another conspicuous absence from today’s inactive list is special teamer Nate Ebner. Earlier in the week, in a rare Monday practice following the bye week, Ebner sustained ankle and back injuries and was out of commission until Friday, when he returned to training on a limited basis.
Apparently, he’s fit enough to play today. Ebner went through an extensive pregame medical evaluation on the field when the team arrived at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday afternoon and appeared to move around without much trouble.
The news wasn’t so good, however, for Patrick Chung. The safety, who also gets considerable special teams snaps, was ruled out Saturday prior to the team’s departure for Philadelphia. Terrence Brooks could be the beneficiary of more defensive playing time as a result, while rookie CB Joejuan Williams, a frequent healthy scratch so far this season, could be in line for special teams roles that Chung normally occupies.
Continuing with special teams, for the second consecutive game, the Patriots won’t have their primary punt returner available. Rookie WR Gunner Olszewski is among the inactive Patriots today, as he continues to deal with ankle and hamstring problems which have plagued him the past few weeks. Olszewski wasn’t originally listed on this past week’s injury report, but his issues cropped up again during Friday’s workout in Foxborough.
In the last game against Baltimore, New England only saw two punts come their way, and they had newcomer Mohamed Sanu back to field them. Interested to see if that continues today.
Meanwhile, rookie rusher Damien Harris finds himself in a similar situation to Olszewski. Harris will be out again this week, although this time, it’s for injury reasons (he’s been a healthy scratch most of this season). He suffered a hamstring injury during Friday’s practice and was ruled out, along with Chung, when the team left Foxborough for Philly on Saturday.
New England’s four other deactivations are all familiar names as healthy scratches: TE Ryan Izzo, QB Cody Kessler, offensive lineman Korey Cunningham, and rookie DL Byron Cowart.
From the Eagles’ perspective, we’re focusing on the running game. New England’s defense has been formidable for most of this season, but one area where they’ve struggled, particularly of late, is against the run. However, Philly will be without two key ball carriers today: Darren Sproles and Jordan Howard. Sproles went on injured reserve this week with a right hip flexor injury, while the latter was a limited practice participant all week with a shoulder issue.
To compensate for those losses, the Eagles re-signed Jay Ajayi late in the week, but Philadelphia might have to rely mostly on rookie Miles Sanders to carry the football today.
Of note for the Eagles, they’ll also be without big-bodied WR Alshon Jeffery and starting linebacker Nigel Bradham. Both men were non-participants in practices this week because of ankle injuries.