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Sirianni Stands by Decision to Play A.J. Brown in Week 18 Despite Injury Result

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PHILADELPHIA – It seems fitting that the Philadelphia Eagles will try to save their season, and perhaps the job of head coach Nick Sirianni, without their best offensive player, receiver A.J. Brown, when they play in the NFC Wild Card at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Monday night.

It probably didn’t need to be this way. 

The Eagles knew the dangers that the turf in MetLife Stadium presented in a Week 18 game that didn’t mean much, yet they went ahead and played their starters in a mostly meaningless game last week against the New York Giants.

Sure, a win over the New York Giants and a loss by the Dallas Cowboys over the Washington Commanders would have given Philly its second straight NFC East title, but the odds of that happening were minuscule.

The Cowboys won, 35-10, and the Commanders, by losing, wrapped up the second pick in the NFL draft. You know Josh Harris – no stranger to tanking – wasn’t about to forfeit that by actually winning a game.

The Eagles lost and gained no traction in confidence by getting thumped by the Giants who raced to a 24-0 lead in the first half and never let the Eagles back in.

A.J. Brown

USA Today

Brown hurt his knee in the first quarter.

Rookie safety Sydney Brown tore an ACL after two plays.

Quarterback Jalen Hurts will play Monday, but he is dealing with a middle finger on his throwing hand that popped out of place in the second quarter of the same.

Safety Reed Blankenship hurt a groin somewhere along the line.

And here we are.

Brown is out and Blankenship is questionable. If he can’t play, the Eagles will have one healthy safety – Kevin Byard. That means Avonte Maddox would be the second and Bradley Roby would probably work in Maddox’s spot, in the slot.

Head coach Nick Sirianni said on Saturday he has no regrets about his decision to play the starters against the Giants.

“We went through it,” said the coach when asked about any second thoughts about the decision. “Like you guys asked me before, ‘Why did we do it?’ Not knowing what the game was, you know, wanting to put a good output on there. I know that those things didn’t – neither of those things happened. But no. Obviously, you can look back on anything.

“At that time, I did what I thought was best for the team, and I’ll stick by that. And so, I don’t regret – am I upset that A.J. is not playing because he got dinged in that game? Of course, I am. But no, I don’t second guess that decision.”

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Sirianni takes the hit for the decision, but you know general manager Howie Roseman had a say in it, too.

With Sydney Brown out, the Eagles have an open roster spot available. Whether they do something could depend on what happens Monday, or they could just go ahead and add safety Tristin McCollum or defensive back Mekhi Garner.

“We still have time to make a decision on Sydney’s roster spot,” said Sirianni. “We’ll go through practice (Saturday), we’ll go through the rest of the week and make that decision. Don’t have any information for you on there.

“As far as Reed, he’s progressing. He’s got a chance, probably be a little bit more of a game-time decision with him, but he’s going to go out there and work today. We’ll see how he feels. We’ll work him again tomorrow, probably work out on the field on Monday night. And so, you know, we’re hopeful that he can go, but we’ll see.”

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