Injuries affected Eagles defense as much as time on field

Eagles defender Bennie Logan slid defensive end from defensive tackle to cover for injuries. AP Photo/Alex Brandon

PHILADELPHIA -- For Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis, the biggest issue in Sunday’s loss at Washington wasn’t his defense being worn down by getting stranded on the field for over 41 minutes.

The biggest issue was losing players in all three position groups early in the game. Defensive end Brandon Bair, linebacker Mychal Kendricks and cornerback Byron Maxwell all went out of the game early. Davis was forced to shuffle his lineup and adjust his strategy accordingly for the rest of the game.

“The hard part of the game, three first-quarter injuries are hard to absorb,” Davis said Tuesday. “You don’t get those bodies back. We had each position group lose a player in the first quarter. That, in and of itself, put some strain on the [number of reps].”

To replace Bair, Davis slid Bennie Logan from defensive tackle to end. Beau Allen came in and replaced Logan inside.

With Kendricks, Davis had already established his plan. Rookie Jordan Hicks played much of the previous week’s game against the New York Jets. He played well in both games.

Rookie Eric Rowe replaced Maxwell at cornerback.

“Eric gave up a couple of hitch routes because he (played) a little bit soft,” Davis said. “But if that’s the biggest problem, it’s a good problem. We’ll get it corrected. But the ball’s not going over his head, it’s not getting behind him. That’s a good sign.”

That could be a factor this week. Rowe may be pressed into service against the New Orleans Saints. Maxwell said that his injured quadriceps muscle is still bothering him.

“It feels a little better,” Maxwell said Tuesday, “but I can’t really run because slowing down is hard.”

A cornerback with a leg injury would become a pretty tempting target for a quarterback as savvy as Drew Brees. As it was, the injuries allowed Kirk Cousins to emulate Brees on Washington’s game-winning, 90-yard touchdown drive.

If fatigue was an issue for the defense, it wasn’t helped by having three fewer players to use in rotations.

“We had a lot of adjustments to make,” Davis said, “with those injuries to three different positions in the first quarter. The first goal line (defensive situation), we don’t have the personnel to go because we’re short. There were all kinds of adjustments going on.

“The guys stepped in. There were no major errors. We put ourselves into position to win the game.”