By Kevin McGuire
The Philadelphia Eagles will have a couple of starters back in the fold Monday night when they host the Carolina Panthers at Lincoln Financial Field. Starting left guard Evan Mathis (knee) has returned to the active roster and is expected to start for the Eagles. Safety Nate Allen (hamstring), after missing last week’s win against the Houston Texans, will return to his starting position this week as well.
Quarterback Nick Foles will be sidelined for about the next month and a half due to a fractured collarbone suffered during the Houston game. Reports suggest he will be out for six to eight weeks, which means for now the job falls on veteran Mark Sanchez to keep the offense moving. Sanchez performed well enough to keep the Eagles in front of the Texans on Sunday afternoon, but he was intercepted twice. Perhaps it was rust, or perhaps it was typical play from Sanchez. Whatever the case, Sanchez will be counted on to keep control of the offense and Chip Kelly will hope to get the most out of the running game to relieve at least some of the pressure off of Sanchez. Kelly is not going to hold back, but having another starting offensive lineman return this weekend should help with getting the ground game off to a good start.
The rest of the roster looks to be in good shape heading into Monday night as well. Other than Foles, any other player appearing on the injury report this week has been listed as a full practice participant. Wide receivers Jeff Maehl (foot) and Brad Smith (groin) look they could be available if needed, although Jeremy Maclin and Jordan Matthews will continue to be the leaders of the receivers for now. Smith can give the special teams units a boost if he is available. Starting center Jason Kelce recently returned to the field, but is still playing through his hernia injury. He has been available for full practices this week though. If Kelce does get banged up, look for David Molk to fill in the line as he did earlier this season.
The defense took a hit in Houston of course. Linebacker DeMeco Ryans going down for the year leaves a void in the middle f the defense with leadership and ability. The good news is Mychal Kendricks is still available after coming back from his calf injury earlier this season. Without Ryans, the Eagles will use the combo of Casey Matthews and Emmanuel Acho to plug in the hole, just as the two did in the absence of Kendricks earlier in the season. The two should split reps on the field based on situation and perhaps performance.
S Nate Allen (hamstring)
CB Nolan Carroll II (groin)
C Jason Kelce (hernia)
LB Mychal Kendricks (calf)
WR Jeff Maehl (foot)
G Evan Mathis (knee)
WR Brad SMith (groin)
QB Nick Foles
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Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.
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