Eagles add safety to muddled secondary

December, 17, 2013
12/17/13
5:45
PM ET
PHILADELPHIA – Figuring there’s safety in numbers, the Philadelphia Eagles added to the number of safeties in their injury-strewn secondary Tuesday. They signed Keelan Johnson off their practice squad, releasing linebacker Emmanuel Acho to create a roster spot.

Going into their Sunday night game against the Chicago Bears’ high-powered offense, the Eagles have serious issues with four of their safeties, plus nickel corner Brandon Boykin.

Rookie starter Earl Wolff, who injured his knee six weeks ago in Green Bay, said he expects to play.

“I’ll be probable, which means I’ll probably play,” Wolff said. “If the game was today, I would play. On Sunday, it just didn’t feel right. I thought this would be three or four weeks. I didn’t think it would be this long.”

Safeties Kurt Coleman (hamstring) and Colt Anderson (knee) were injured Sunday in Minnesota. Both are also important special-teams players. That is the role Johnson likely would fill if he is active for the Bears game.

“Right now, it’s just about trying to get healthy and help this team out,” Coleman said. “We’re trying to make a push for the playoffs. I’ve got to get better as fast as possible because we need everyone out there.”

The other safety with issues is veteran Patrick Chung. In his case, the issues are related to performance, not any injury. Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis said Chung was in “a slump” that had the coaches moving Coleman into the lineup before he was hurt.

“Until they separate themselves,” Davis said, “I’ll let the competition get the best out of both of them.”

Wolff had separated himself from Chung earlier in the season before getting hurt.

“He was starting to really show some playmaking ability,” Davis said. “He got injured and has been out for a while. We have to crawl him back into the mix as we go.”

Boykin was knocked out of the Minnesota game with a concussion. He was out on the practice field Tuesday, which is a positive sign, but he still has to be cleared according to the NFL concussion protocol. If Boykin can’t play, Davis said, either Chung or cornerback Roc Carmichael would move into his role in the slot.

“For me, I like playing outside more,” Carmichael said. “That’s what I’ve done my whole career. But going into the inside, it’s still a defensive-back position. Playing man will be the same, but now I have to learn more of the zones – which 'backer do I have to help, is the end going to drop, little things like that.”

The 5-foot-11, 212-pound Johnson was in training camp with the Miami Dolphins. He signed to the Eagles' practice squad in September.

Phil Sheridan

ESPN Philadelphia Eagles reporter

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