Thursday, January 2, 2014
Earl Wolff practices* -- status uncertain
By Phil Sheridan
PHILADELPHIA -- Philadelphia Eagles rookie safety Earl Wolff practiced with an asterisk Thursday.
Wolff, who has missed five of six games with a knee injury, was listed as a full participant in Thursday’s session. He said his knee felt better than it has since being injured in Green Bay in November.
Normally that would be a good sign that Wolff will be ready to play. But here’s the asterisk: Because the Eagles are playing the New Orleans Saints on Saturday night, the Thursday practice was more like a light Friday session. Wolff didn’t exactly have to push himself. After the practice, he went through some extra drills to test the knee.
“It was football activity, what I would go through in a game,” Wolff said. “It didn’t bother me. I felt better than I did last week and the week before. I feel like it also depends on how I feel tomorrow, if I’m real sore.”
As for playing Saturday night, Wolff said it would be up to the coaches and training staff.
“It’s not my call anymore,” he said. “It’s their call.”
Defensive coordinator Bill Davis is faced with several less-than-ideal choices. Veteran Patrick Chung lost his job to Wolff earlier in the season. He has not exactly been Troy Polamalu since returning to the starting lineup.
Kurt Coleman had been splitting time with Chung before pulling a hamstring in Minnesota. Coleman played in Dallas, but was limited to special teams duty. He has practiced with the first team this week, but has been on the field for just 6 percent of the Eagles’ defensive plays all season.
If Wolff is physically ready, there’s still the issue of getting back up to game speed. When he tried to return against the Chicago Bears two weeks ago, the plan was for Chung to start and Wolff to ease back in. But he aggravated the knee on his first series and hasn’t played since.
“Earl has to practice if he's going to play” head coach Chip Kelly said. “If that’s your question, yeah, he's got to get out there at some point in time.”
It is unclear whether Thursday’s light workout counted in Kelly’s mind.
What is clear is that Saints quarterback Drew Brees is going to test the Eagles' safeties -- whether Wolff, Coleman or Chung is out there alongside Nate Allen -- until they prove they aren’t the weak link in the defense.