HomeDa Birds NewsAvonte Maddox Acts as Eagles' Safety Net in Emergency Plan Against Bucs

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

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

PHILADELPHIA – The Philadelphia Eagles lost more than a game in their regular-season finale against the New York Giants. The injury attrition was arguably worse for Nick Sirianni’s team heading into a Super Wild Card Weekend Monday night matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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Jalen Hurts’ dislocated middle finger on his throwing hand and A.J. Brown’s knee issue were the headliners coming out of the game but no position suffered more than safety where rookie Sydney Brown was lost for the season with a torn ACL and starter Reed Blankenship was forced to leave early with a groin injury.

Blankenship has not practiced this week but showed some progress on Friday when he was spotted on a separate field working with trainers. The extra day could help Blankenship, who said he may talk on Saturday, indicating there is hope he will be able to do something at practice.

If that’s not the case, on paper the Eagles are out of safeties to play next to Kevin Byard on the 53-man roster, meaning a practice squad elevation for Mekhi Garner and/or Tristin McCollum would be in the next-man-up conversation.

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That, however, forgets the player who has been the break-glass-in-cae-of-emergency option at the position since he was a rookie back in 2018: slot cornerback Avonte Maddox.

Philadelphia Eagles Avonte Maddox
Whenever the Eagles have an emergency at safety, Avonte Maddox steps up. Ed Kracz SI Eagles Today

The 5-foot-9, 184-pound sixth-year pro was used by Jim Schwartz and Jonathan Gannon when the Eagles were desperate for a body at the position and it looks as if Matt Patricia is going down the same road.

Maddox was spotted working with the safeties at practice on Friday and while he tried to play it coy when approached in the locker room, Byard gave up the goods.

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“He’s a veteran guy. He’s been back there with me [at practice] but they’re also gonna work some other guys in there as well I mean at least during practice,” Byard admitted. “But Avonte will be out there with me.

“He’s a vet. He’s been in this league for a while. He’s played safety as well so it’s a pretty easy transition. Obviously, Reed is a really good player but I feel very confident with Avonte back there we’ll be able to spin things pretty good.”

SI.com’s Eagles Today then circled back to Maddox, who gave up the subterfuge.

“It’s cool. Like [Byard] said I’ve been working there at safety,” Maddox said. “It won’t be the first time I’ve been at safety. I’ve been there a good amount of time throughout my career so it’s not like it’s brand new. Plus I got KB back there as well so he’s definitely a huge help. I still got Reed which is a huge help and just being able to get my reps in practice.

“I’ll be ready for the game.”

Maddox tore his pec against Minnesota In Week 2 and missed 13 games before returning against Arizona on Dec. 31. He has played as a free safety in 265 career snaps and 256 more as a box safety during his career, according to Pro Football Focus.

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If Maddox does move to the back end, the Eagles could use veteran Bradley Roby in the slot against the Bucs, or move outside corner James Bradberry inside and insert Kelee Ringo or Eli Ricks as an outside corner.

The team’s dime looks would then be Darius Slay and Ringo/Ricks as the outside CBs with Bradberry and Roby inside and Byard and Maddox at safety.

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