Center Jason Kelce also will not be on the field after being placed on the injured reserve, deactivating him for the remainder of the 2012 season. Backup center Dallas Reynolds will make his first career start in Kelce’s place.
The Eagles’ entire wide receiver corps is banged up, but WR DeSean Jackson and WR Jason Avant will take the field on Sunday despite a hamstring injury and a wrist injury, respectively. WR Riley Cooper will remain sidelined with an injured collarbone.
Avant as well as rookie WR Damaris Johnson from the University of Tulsa will be looked at to step up with Maclin out. Avant has hauled in 6 catches for 60 yards so far this season, while Johnson has caught just 2 passes for 23 yards and recorded one carry for 6 yards.
While these two wide-outs must work their hardest to get open, the Cardinals defense will be expecting QB Michael Vick to look for Jackson early and often. With Jackson being the premiere WR on the Eagles (with arguments for Maclin as well), I expect Vick to target him atleast 10-15 times throughout the course of the game.
The increased number of targets may set up Jackson for a huge day receiving, but if the Cardinals defense smothers him in double and triple coverage all afternoon, the roles of Avant and Johnson will be increased tremendously.
I also expect TE Brent Celek to see a lot of passes coming his way, as he racked up 8 catches for a ridiculous 157 yards last Sunday against the Baltimore Ravens‘ highly touted defense. Celek also caught 4 balls for 65 yards in Week 1 against the Cleveland Browns.
LT Demetress Bell will fill the void left by Dunlap on the Eagles’ offensive line. Bell is not nearly as inexperienced as newbie center Reynolds, as he has started 30 NFL games in his career, all as a member of the Buffalo Bills.
The 2-0 Eagles have only won each of their games by 1 point, with both victories coming as a result of a fourth quarter comeback.
In order to live up to their hype and remain in the Super Bowl discussion, the Eagles will have to start winning games by much greater margins and start to convincingly separate themselves from the rest of the NFC.
Injuries are never an excuse in the NFL, so Vick and the Eagles must overcome the adversity Sunday and let the feathers fly as they put a beating on the Cardinals in the desert.
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