By Kevin McGuire
As the Philadelphia Eagles prepare to face the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl, it seems a spreading illness has been the biggest concern of the week. Perhaps it is all the extra exposure to people and the media in the week leading up to the big game?
Defensive tackle Timmy Jernigan has missed multiple practices this week. Jernigan was first ruled out of a practice a week ago in the last practice session in Philadelphia. An illness was the reason for his absence a week ago and continues to be the case this week. Having missed so much practice time would seem to make his availability for the Super Bowl at risk, although if it is just illness that is tying him down, he could still see some action in the game if he recovers over the weekend.
Cornerback Ronald Darby was added to the injury report on Thursday with an illness. The good news, perhaps, is that Darby remained a full practice participant on Thursday and may still be good to go on Sunday.
The Eagles will need all the help they can get from the secondary as they face Tom Brady and tight end Rob Gronkowski. Gronkowski's status has been in the spotlight for both teams this week after missing some practice time while going through the NFL's concussion protocol, but the player announced on Thursday that he was cleared to play in Sunday's game. Gronkowski missed the Super Bowl last season due to an injury, so he will be ready to have a big game on Sunday.
For the Eagles, only minor injuries are on the weekly injury report on top of the obvious injuries to players like Carson Wentz, Darren Sproles and Jason Peters. Running back Jay Ajayi is listed with an ankle injury that has been ongoing since the NFC Championship Game, but he has been a full participant this week in Eagles' practices. Ajayi should figure to be a main cog in the Eagles' gameplan on offense this weekend as the team looks to use the running game to its advantage.
On defense, Fletcher Cox appearing on the injury report may be a reason to be concerned for some Eagles fans, but a calf injury has not slowed down Cox in practices this week. The Eagles have listed Cox as a full participant this week, so he should be ready to play his regular role in the Super Bowl. He will be a key player that can give New England some problems up front, and the Eagles will hope Cox can disrupt Tom Brady throughout the game.
- DT Tim Jernigan (illness)
- RB Jay Ajayi (ankle)
- DT Fletcher Cox (calf)
- CB Ronald Darby (illness)
- LB Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring)
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