Eagles Designate Nakobe Dean For Return

Letting T.J. Edwards and Kyzir White walk in free agency, the Eagles had a Nakobe Dean starter debut planned for a while. But the second-year linebacker landed on IR after one game.

Dean is on his way back. The Eagles designated the first-time starter for return Tuesday. Having missed the required four games, Dean can return in Week 6 if the Eagles deem him ready. Philadelphia has not used any of its IR activations thus far.

A foot injury sent Dean to IR. Following that transaction, the Eagles called up Nicholas Morrow from their practice squad. After Morrow went from projected starter to not making the Eagles’ 53-man roster, he came back and has started the past four games. Morrow and mid-training camp signee Zach Cunningham have worked as Philly’s ILBs during Dean’s absence.

Although the Eagles cut him in August, Morrow has played well in relief of Dean. The former Raiders and Bears starter has offered versatility from his linebacker post during his early Eagles work, notching three sacks — which nearly tops his career total (four) coming into this season — and six tackles for loss. Pro Football Focus slots Morrow as the NFL’s fifth-best off-ball linebacker through five games. Cunningham’s 33 tackles sit second among Eagles — behind Reed Blankenship‘s 34. It will be interesting to see how the Eagles navigate this issue, with Dean having been in their starter plans for several months.

Edwards signed with the Bears, while White followed Jonathan Gannon to the Cardinals. Dean played sparingly behind the NFC champions’ starter duo last season, logging only 34 defensive snaps as a rookie. But the Eagles (and their newfound hub of Georgia defenders) dramatically updated their payroll this year, authorizing a then-record-setting Jalen Hurts extension and reupping cornerbacks Darius Slay and James Bradberry. This path resulted in both starting linebackers and safeties leaving in free agency, providing opportunities for lower-cost cogs at those positions.

The 2021 Butkus award winner, Dean was expected to go off the draft board much earlier than he did. But the Eagles were able to snag Dean at No. 83 overall. This foot injury was not expected to be a season-threatening malady for Dean, who will be on track to come back soon. The Eagles have three weeks to activate Dean from IR, when he will rejoin ex-college teammates Jordan Davis, Jalen Carter and Nolan Smith.

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