Without Top 2, Eagles' Linebackers Are Still ‘works in Progress'

In about four weeks, the Eagles will play a football game, you know, one that matters, and their top two linebackers are not healthy. 

On top of that, linebackers coach Ken Flajole doesn't think his unit is ready for Week 1 yet. 

"Guys, you're asking me to tell you how the chapter ends," Flajole said on Friday afternoon. "I can't tell you that right now. We're still reading the book. These guys are works in progress. 

"That's the reason why I get an opportunity to be in this organization, is to get a chance to help them. We're not where we need to be right now, but they're working hard and hopefully we'll get guys back here in the next couple of weeks and get ourselves ready to go and sharpen that sword and get ready for the Redskins."

Kamu Grugier-Hill suffered a Grade 3 MCL sprain that will keep him out for the start of the season and Nigel Bradham is still returning from offseason toe surgery and has not practiced in full yet this summer. 

Without those two, the Eagles' top trio is Nathan Gerry, Zach Brown and L.J. Fort. 

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This is definitely an area of concern. 

"I don't think we're quite ready for Game 1 right now," Flajole said. "That's just me. As a coach, we always look forward to those things and you say, ‘are we ready to play?' I don't think we are right now. I don't think we've had enough competitive reps, but that's what the preseason is for and we'll get those things going forward in the next few weeks."

They better be ready in the next four weeks. 

While it's true that the Eagles are in sub-packages more often than their base, meaning fewer than three linebackers on the field, the prospect of possibly going into the 2019 season without their top two is troubling, especially considering that two of the next three are new to this defensive scheme. 

Gerry, Brown and Fort played in Thursday night's preseason opener with varied levels of success. Gerry gave up a touchdown pass in coverage, while Fort and Brown seemed to make some plays. But they all have room for improvement. 

Flajole thinks his guys need more reps this summer but also acknowledges they really can't afford any more injuries. In addition to Bradham and Grugier-Hill, veteran Paul Worrilow has been sidelined for most of camp with a knee injury after missing all of last season with a torn ACL. Another injury would be a huge blow to their already-strained depth. 

The Eagles are hoping Bradham will be back by the start of the regular season, but it's also fair to wonder if he'll be back to his normal self whenever he does return. 

In any case, it's OK that the Eagles' linebackers aren't ready to play today. But they better be ready to play on Sept. 8. It'll be here before you know it. 

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