Delaware native Alex Ellis has fought his way back to Eagles' practice squad
PHILADELPHIA – It has been a long 2½ months for Delmar High School star Alex Ellis to make it back to the Eagles practice squad.
Ellis was signed by the Eagles in training camp, and was considered a long shot to make the roster with five other tight ends in camp. Yet Ellis was on the 53-man roster for Week 1, and then again for weeks 3 and 4.
Ellis hurt his knee in that fourth game, a 34-27 Eagles win over the Packers in Green Bay on Sept. 26. He was waived the following week with an injury settlement and then spent the next two months trying to get back.
"I just went and got (the knee) right, and I'm glad to be back," Ellis said. "I was just rehabbing, staying in shape, doing all those things that players do. Just happy to be back and glad to have another opportunity."
Ellis played a handful of snaps in the three games. He was used as an extra blocker near the goal line, and the Eagles scored touchdowns twice with him on the field.
But Ellis isn't expecting a promotion just yet.
The Eagles already have three tight ends on the 53-man roster in Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert and Josh Perkins. Perkins, however, has doubled as a wide receiver, something the Eagles desperately need now that they are going into the game Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys with just three wide receivers – rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Greg Ward and Robert Davis.
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Arcega-Whiteside showed up on the Eagles' injury report Thursday with a foot injury. He practiced Friday and Eagles coach Doug Pederson said he should be able to play.
"I'm just here to do the job that they tell me to do," Ellis said. "I don’t have any outlook. I just put on my jersey, go to work every day and do what they say. I don’t have any projection (of a promotion). I’m just happy to be back."
Other Delawareans getting a chance
There have been other Delawareans promoted from practice squads this season.
The Giants promoted wide receiver David Sills V earlier this week. Sills will make his NFL debut Sunday against Washington. Sills played at Red Lion Christian and Eastern Christian Academy.
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The Los Angeles Chargers promoted wide receiver Andre Patton from the practice squad on Sept. 28. Patton, the former St. Elizabeth star, has four receptions for 38 yards this season. Patton spent his first two NFL seasons on the Chargers' practice squad before getting his chance on the 53-man roster this season.
Wesley College star Matt Gono, an offensive lineman, played his first career NFL snaps on Dec. 8 against Carolina.
Cornerback Brandon Watson, who also went to Red Lion and Eastern Christian, was promoted by the Jaguars on Nov. 3, and has played in six games, all on special teams.
Houston Texans defensive end Angelo Blackson, also a Red Lion Christian alumnus, was named the AFC Special Teams Player of the Week this past week. Blackson blocked a 45-yard field goal against the Titans last Sunday. The Texans ended up winning 24-21.
Speaking of wide receivers
Rob Davis played in his first game as an Eagle last Sunday against Washington. He didn't have any catches and wasn't targeted.
That could change against the Cowboys, especially if Arcega-Whiteside is limited.
How will Eagles coach Doug Pederson know if the wide receiver corps that consists of Arcega-Whiteside, Greg Ward and Davis will be ready in such a big game? None of them had an NFL reception before this season.
"Throw them out there," Pederson said. "It's the only way."
The Eagles are already without their top three. DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery are both on injured reserve. Nelson Agholor, who has missed four of the last five games, and hasn't practiced at all this week, isn't expected to play Sunday.
"It's always a blessing to be out there on that field," Davis said. "I feel like I'm getting more comfortable. Obviously, I've only been running this offense with (quarterback) Carson (Wentz) and the other guys for a little more than a week. But I've been working on that with studying and repetition every day."
Davis, like everyone else, said he hasn't seen a unit this decimated.
"It's the slimmest I've ever been at any position," he said. "But we figure out ways to get the job done, and we'll keep working at it."
Avonte Maddox gets credit
Avonte Maddox was credited with a strip sack on Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins that led to Nigel Bradham's recovery and 47-yard touchdown return to end the game.
The Eagles had just taken a 31-27 lead with 26 seconds left. Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins, with one final chance, was getting ready to throw a Hail Mary into the end zone, when Maddox, on a blitz, knocked the ball out.
It was Maddox's first career sack.
"Finally," he said. "It was pretty sweet."
Barnett might return, and other injuries
Right tackle Lane Johnson was ruled out against the Cowboys. Johnson suffered a high-ankle sprain against the Giants and didn't play last week against Washington. He and Agholor haven't practiced all week. Agholor was listed as questionable.
Halapoulivaati Vaitai will replace Johnson at right tackle like he did last week against Washington. He would be opposed by Cowboys defensive end DeMarcus Lawrence, who has five sacks.
The Eagles are hoping defensive end Derek Barnett can return after he missed the previous two games with an ankle injury. Barnett suffered the injury against Miami. He practiced on a limited basis for the first time Friday.
Running back Jordan Howard (shoulder) and Maddox (knee) are also listed as questionable.
Contact Martin Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.