Injuries Hitting The Defense Hard

The Eagles defense showed this pre-season that they were much improved. The improvement continued into Week One, but now, injuries are taking away some of the luster from the Birds' defense.

First, it was Lito Sheppard. Now, his backup - Rod Hood - is out with a heel contusion and unlikely to play against San Francisco. Also, Jevon Kearse will miss the rest of the season and was placed on IR Tuesday by the Eagles.

Kearse will have season-ending knee surgery, giving him back-to-back disappointing seasons in Philadelphia. Kearse suffered injuries to his medial collateral, lateral collateral and anterior cruciate ligaments when teammate Mike Patterson collided with him on a sack of Giants' quarterback Eli Manning. As the Birds' starting defensive end, Kearse was a key part of the improvement that the Eagles had seen on their defense. After being much maligned for a poor season last year with the Eagles, Kearse was redeeming himself well in the early going.

Down the road, the Eagles will also have to consider that they may never truly see the return of Kearse as the player that they hoped he would be because of the severity of his injuries. For now, they hope that their rotation of defensive linemen will help to cover up the injury as best as possible. Jerome McDougle will step into the rotation, helping to fill Kearse's spot.

Meanwhile, the secondary is an absolute mess.

The loss of Sheppard hurt, but Rod Hood was doing a decent job as his fill-in until he left the Giants' game with a heel contusion. Hood will likely miss at least one game and possibly more, depending on how quickly he responds to treatment.

While Hood was decent in the lineup, Joselio Hanson was exploited by Manning. The Giants' quarterback looked long and hard at where Hanson was on each play and took advantage of the young cornerback's weak coverage on many plays Sunday. Covering up the loss of Sheppard and Hood will be much tougher than covering the hole on their defensive line, because of the rotation that they've used up front. The good news is that Sheppard and Hood may not be out for much of an extended period and certainly, neither figures to miss a majority of the season.

The Eagles promoted cornerback Dustin Fox from the practice squad to help in the secondary. Fox will fill the roster spot vacated by Kearse. There was thought that former Eagle Donald Strickland might be re-signed, but the Eagles decided to give Fox the nod rather than brining back Strickland.

Fox (5-10, 190) was a third round draft choice of the Minnesota Vikings in 2005, but spent his entire rookie season on the Injured Reserve list with a broken arm. Fox posted 217 tackles, seven interceptions and six forced fumbles during a four-year career at Ohio State. He was signed to the Eagles practice squad on September 4.

"I think I can contribute some immediate depth," said Fox. "Obviously, we are kind of hurting at corner right now. Guys have been getting nicked up a little bit. So that's the main goal."

In other moves, the Eagles released tight end Tim Day from the practice squad and signed running back Bruce Perry and tight end Lee Vickers to fill the two open practice squad spots. Perry, was released by the Eagles a week ago when they brought back Dexter Wynn to help out the secondary when Sheppard went down with the injury. A seventh round draft choice of the Eagles in 2004, Perry is a Philadelphia native and a George Washington HS graduate. He spent his entire rookie campaign on Injured Reserve with a shoulder injury and spent the first 15 weeks of the 2005 season on the Eagles practice squad before being activated for the final two contests. In the 2006 season opener vs. Houston, Perry returned 3 kickoffs for 57 yards.

Vickers was signed as a rookie free agent defensive end by the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2006, but was released as part of their final roster cutdown this summer. A native of Athens, AL, Vickers played collegiately at North Alabama after transferring from Calhoun Community College.

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