When asked if he would be ready to play on Sunday against the Lions, Eagles TE Zach Ertz responded that he is back to 100 percent and has been medically cleared by team doctors. On the other side of the ball, CB Leodis McKelvin responded “it looks like it” when asked if he would be on the field this Sunday. The return of both of these players is a huge boost for the Eagles offensively and defensively.
Zach Ertz will be playing in his second game of the season since being injured in the Eagles’ first regular season game against the Browns on September 11th. In that game, Ertz recorded six receptions for 58 yards. Ertz’s return could spell disaster for a Lions defense that has given up five total touchdowns to tight ends in 2016, the worst mark so far for any defense in the league. Detroit’s defense has also allowed 11.37 yards per catch for tight ends. More broadly, the Lions defense has allowed 271.8 pass yards per game and has only one interception over the first month of the season.
This is the perfect game to get Ertz reacquainted. With the recent inclusion of Trey Burton and a reemergence from Brent Celek, the Eagles will likely roll out their three-tight-end set that they have been talking about since the hire of Doug Pederson. This is something with which the team has not really experimented and thus, the Lions will likely struggle without any game film to construct a solid defensive game-plan. Ertz will also likely serve as a reliable security blanket for rookie Carson Wentz as he continues to adjust to the speed of the NFL.
The return of Leodis McKelvin from injury may prove to be even more valuable considering how thin the Eagles are at cornerback. While All-Pro receiver Antonio Brown was kept out of the end zone against the Birds, he still managed to rack up 12 receptions for 140 yards, which is the most yards he has had in a game this season thus far. Games like that are why it seems like the CB group may have the bottom fall out soon. With McKelvin coming back from a hamstring injury suffered against the Browns, the shaky cornerback corps should be a bit more solid.
It is important to note that McKelvin did not have a monster game against Cleveland, racking up only 2 tackles before exiting due to his injury. Yet, the presence of a cornerback who has six interceptions spanning since 2014 should make life harder for Detroit’s receivers. On top of that, Lions QB Matthew Stafford has thrown 4 interceptions on the season, with two coming against a Chicago defense that Carson Wentz demolished. Thankfully the Eagles are coming fresh off a bye and have two defensive linemen who look like All-Pros in Brandon Graham and Fletcher Cox who can help the otherwise weak cornerback group ease into the season.
The Eagles got a chance to rest up on their bye week and are incredibly heading into October with no players trying to recover from injuries. The break on the bye week was key in allowing players to fully recover from injuries. Specifically, Zach Ertz and Leodis McKelvin recovering from their injuries suffered almost a month ago will undoubtedly benefit the Eagles on both sides of the ball. Ertz will look to combine with Trey Burton and Brent Celek to wreak havoc on a weak Lions defense. Defensively, Leodis McKelvin should help the troublesome cornerback group overcome a turnover-prone quarterback. Sunday can’t come soon enough.
Photo: Angie Six (via: Flickr)