HomeDa Birds NewsA.J. Effort, Absence, and Eagles' 'Emergency' Game Plan Explored in Source

A.J. Effort, Absence, and Eagles’ ‘Emergency’ Game Plan Explored in Source

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A.J. Effort, Absence, and Eagles’ ‘Emergency’ Game Plan Explored in Source

PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Eagles will be without second-team All-Pro receiver A.J. Brown for Monday night’s wild-card matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, according to a league source.

The star wideout finished the 2023 regular season with team-highs of 106 receptions for 1,456 yards, along with seven touchdowns which matched running mate Devonta Smith for the team’s best.

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Brown, who was injured in the first quarter during a Week 18 loss to the New York Giants, is believed to be dealing with an MCL injury in his knee and could return for the divisional round if Philadelphia can beat the Bucs.

In Brown’s absence, Smith, who missed the Week 18 game against the Giants with an ankle injury, becomes the WR1 and has practiced in full so far this week, a quick return after being last seen leaving Lincoln Financial Field on crutches and in a walking boot after the Week 17 loss to Arizona.

Philadelphia Eagles DeVonta Smith
Eagles will need a lot from DeVonta Smith in Tampa. USA Today

An “emergency” plan? It’s not quite that dramatic. The speedy Quez Watkins, Olamide Zaccheaus, and veteran Julio Jones, a former Buc, will all need to step up after Smith at receiver. Some high-profile Eagles have also been lobbying for star punt returner Britain Covey to get more involved from the slot and on manufactured touches to take advantage of his short-area quickness.

Avonte Maddox Acts as Eagles’ Safety Net in Emergency Plan Against Bucs

An uptick in 12 personnel (two tight ends) with Dallas Goedert and Jack Stoll and/or Grant Calcaterra will also likely be in play for Philadelphia.

Without Smith and Brown getting injured in-game against the Giants, it was Watkins who got most of the work, snaring a season-high eight receptions in 11 targets for 93 yards and a touchdown. Watkins came into that game with only seven receptions for 49 yards in the eight games he had played in.

Eagles Face Tough Playoff History against Bucs in Wild Card Matchup

Brown was not a participant for Thursday and Friday practices so things were already trending in a negative direction for this week. The star wideout also had deactivated his X account, formerly known as Twitter, and wiped his Instagram page of all Eagles-related references earlier in the week which concerned some.

Despite that, a separate team source insisted Brown was working feverishly with the idea of returning if the Eagles do advance.

Related: Eagles Emergency Plan: Maddox ‘Safety’ Net vs. Bucs

Philadelphia also lost rookie safety Sydney Brown to the much-maligned MetLife Stadium turf with a torn ACL in Week 18. To be fair, though, Brown’s injury occurred more traditionally and did not seem turf-related.

Quarterback Jalen Hurts also suffered a dislocated finger on his throwing hand in the game as well but is expected to play in Tampa while Philadelphia has been preparing Avonte Maddox to move back to safety after Reed Blankenship hurt his groin against the Giants.

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