To take Carroll’s roster spot, the Eagles signed defensive back Jaylen Watkins from the Buffalo Bills’ practice squad. Watkins was the Eagles’ fourth-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft.
In Buffalo, Watkins was united with his younger brother, wide receiver Sammy Watkins. He signed with the Bills after being released by the Eagles on the final roster cut. Watkins turned 23 years old Friday.
Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis said he mixed up coverages on Johnson and Rowe often had help.
“We had doubles,” Davis said. “We had brackets. We moved in and out of coverages. We had to scramble a little bit when Nolan got hurt.”
Davis didn’t have many options active during the game. Veteran defensive back E.J. Biggers could have replaced Carroll, but Davis likes to use Biggers inside in different defensive packages. Chris Maragos or Ed Reynolds could have played safety while Walter Thurmond or Malcolm Jenkins moved to cornerback.
But Rowe is a player the Eagles moved up in the second round to draft. He was pressed into action against the New York Jets early this season and intercepted his first NFL pass. In that game, third-round pick Jordan Hicks also got some playing time and created two turnovers.
Hicks remained in the rotation because of injuries to inside linebackers. He was having a major impact until he tore a pectoral muscle in Dallas three weeks ago.
Rowe played a lot against Washington, saw some action against New Orleans and then didn’t play a single down for the next four games.
Perhaps if he’d stayed in the mix, Rowe would have been better prepared to play as much as he did in Detroit. As it was, Rowe went from the sideline to running with one of the league’s premier wide receivers. It was a tough assignment.
In Watkins, the Eagles have a player who is familiar with their defensive scheme. He can play some safety, if needed.
Rookie cornerback Denzel Rice, who hasn’t played on defense yet this season, is also on the roster.