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Sidney Jones could return vs. Saints

Eliot Shorr-Parks
January 10, 2019 - 1:56 pm

The Eagles got some potentially good news on Thursday -- depending on how you look at it. 

Cornerback Sidney Jones was on the practice field Thursday at the NovaCare Complex with a helmet on, and took part in individual drills, a sign that he very well could be active this Sunday against the New Orleans Saints. 

Jones has not played since the Eagles loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 14 due to a hamstring injury. 

On one hand, the possibility of getting Jones back is a good thing. Going into a game as healthy as possible is always a positive, and gives the Eagles some more options at cornerback, both in the starting lineup and as a backup. Jones was the starting nickel cornerback, and also started some games on the outside, prior to going down with a hamstring injury. 

On the other, there is no denying the secondary has improved since Jones went to the sideline.

Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox and Cre'von LeBlanc have all played at a high level (for the most part) over the team's four-game winning streak, and the defense has been much better for it. One possibility the Eagles could decide to go with is putting Maddox back at safety, and sending Tre Sullivan to the bench, but with how well Maddox has played at outside cornerback that might not be a good idea. The fact that Jones struggled against the Saints -- and the Saints went into the game looking to attack Jones -- is also something for the Eagles to take into consideration when deciding if they should put Jones back out onto the field. 

It is very unlikely the Eagles would put Jones back at nickel cornerback with how well LeBlanc is playing, and how highly defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz spoke about him this week.

"It doesn't take long to be around that guy to know that he's competitive and he's tough. It took a little bit -- he wasn't a rookie, so a lot of times with those guys, it's just a matter of getting his terminology up-to-date and things like that. So it was sort of by necessity. He needed to get up to speed quickly, but he was up for the task," Schwartz said of LelBlanc. "He's played some outside corner for us, too. I don't know that we win that Giants game if he can't step in and play outside corner, which was a position that he had hardly ever played and he had not practiced for us. But competitiveness and toughness go a long way, and he brings both of those."

Messing with the Eagles' chemistry in the secondary, and benching a player that has helped them get this deep into the playoffs, is likely not a decision the Eagles will make -- and it would be the wrong decision to put Jones back into the game.

Still, if the team is as high on Jones as they once were, it wouldn't be surprising to see them force him onto the field in some capacity this Sunday if he is active. 

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