Sydney Brown

Eagles S Sydney Brown Addresses ACL Recovery

As the Eagles dealt with several injuries in the secondary during the 2023 season, safety Sydney Brown saw starting duties down the stretch. His rookie campaign came to an abrupt end thanks to a torn ACL, an injury which threatens to keep him sidelined for the start of the 2024 slate.

As things currently stand, however, Brown may be able to avoid missing time in the regular season. The 24-year-old Canadian recently provided an encouraging update on his recovery process. Plenty is yet to be determined, of course, but he could be available as early as Week 1.

“I feel amazing. I can start working out for you right now if you want to,” Brown said, via Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philadelphia. “I feel like I’m miles ahead of where I should really be. I will be ready for when the season comes around.”

The Illinois product suffered the ACL tear in early January, so he is a strong candidate to begin training camp on the reserve/PUP list. If he manages to return to full health in time for the start of the campaign, however, his presence will be welcomed on the Eagles’ defense. Philadelphia used Brown as a starter for six games in 2023; among his statistical output, one figure which sticks out is the 99-yard interception he recorded in Week 17. He added 45 tackles and three pass deflections while also playing a regular role on special teams.

The Eagles have reunited with C.J. Gardner-Johnson along with extending Reed Blankenship, moves which will give the team veteran starters at both safety spots. Brown could be a valued backup contributor in his second season, though, provided his recovery continues to proceed along an encouraging path. Fellow defensive back Zech McPhearson could likewise be available at the start of the coming season.

The latter missed all of 2023 due to an Achilles tear, but he also said (via Zangaro) he expects to be healthy in time for Week 1. McPhearson will bring special teams production while also serving as a backup contributor at the slot corner position behind the recently re-signed Avonte Maddox.

Eagles S Sydney Brown Tears ACL

JANUARY 8: Testing revealed Brown did suffer a tear, Nick Sirianni confirmed Monday. Brown will join safety Justin Evans on Philadelphia’s IR soon, further depleting a struggling defense at the position. Due to the timing of the injury, the third-round pick stands to become a candidate to start next season on the reserve/PUP list.

JANUARY 7: The Eagles’ defensive struggles continued on Sunday, and the unit will be shorthanded ahead of the postseason. Rookie safety Sydney Brown is believed to have suffered a torn ACL, per Mike Garafolo of NFL Network.

Further testing will be needed to confirm the initial diagnosis, Garafolo notes. If Brown is indeed set to miss the remainder of the campaign, though, his absence will deal a blow to Philadelphia’s secondary. The 23-year-old has been a significant contributor in recent weeks in particular while the team has dealt with other injuries on the backend.

Just like his twin brother, Brown was drafted this April to mark the beginning of his pro career after an impressive showing in the college ranks. The Canadian was one of several members of Illinois’ talented secondary, and his production there put him on the radar of the Eagles as part of their re-tooling efforts following a notable offseason exodus amongst defenders. Brown had logged five starts in his rookie season, highlighted by a 99-yard pick-six in Week 17.

While seeing considerable usage on special teams but also a rotational role on defense, the third-rounder totaled 45 tackles and three pass deflections heading into today’s game. Philadelphia’s loss to the Giants locked the reigning NFC champions into the No. 5 seed, and the result marked a fifth defeat in the final six weeks of the season. The Eagles’ defense has been a sore spot in that stretch, and being without Brown will not be a welcomed sign heading into the wild-card round.

The Eagles will open the postseason in Tampa Bay. Given their struggles on defense in general – and against the pass as a whole – the loss of depth at the S spot will lead to the team’s starters being leaned on even more heavily. Reed Blankenship and trade acquisition Kevin Byard will continue to log a heavy workload. They (along with a cornerback contingent which is expected to include a healthy Darius Slay) will look for a rebound performance relative to recent showings in the playoffs next week. Brown, meanwhile, will turn his attention to offseason recovery.

NFC East Notes: Eagles, Pinnock, Cowboys

The Eagles both signed five-year starter Terrell Edmunds and used a third-round pick on Sydney Brown. Both safeties factor into the team’s plans, but they are not outflanking Reed Blankenship thus far through training camp. Blankenship has been a first-team mainstay, per the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jeff McLane, who adds Edmunds and Brown have rotated at the other safety spot. Indeed, The Athletic’s Zach Berman notes Blankenship — a 2022 UDFA out of Middle Tennessee State — has been the Eagles’ top safety in camp (subscription required).

This reminds of Marcus Epps‘ rise last year. Despite the Eagles re-signing Anthony Harris and adding Jaquiski Tartt in 2022, Epps earned a starting job — one that eventually led to a two-year, $12MM Raiders payday. The Eagles brought in C.J. Gardner-Johnson via trade just before last season. That transaction could signal none of Philly’s safeties should be too comfortable, but Blankenship — Gardner-Johnson’s injury sub last year who played 291 defensive snaps — looks like the best bet to start among the in-house group.

Here is the latest from the NFC East:

  • Staying on the subject of safeties in this division, the Giants may be moving toward giving Jason Pinnock the starting job alongside Xavier McKinney. A Jets fifth-round pick in 2021, Pinnock started five games for the Giants last year, operating as McKinney’s injury fill-in. He has received consistent first-team work in camp, The Athletic’s Dan Duggan notes. Pinnock has distanced himself from Dane Belton and veteran Bobby McCain, having been Big Blue’s first-teamer since the fourth training camp practice. The Giants, who lost Julian Love in free agency, claimed Pinnock shortly after the Jets waived the converted cornerback on cutdown day last year. Two seasons remain on Pinnock’s rookie contract.
  • Malik Hooker‘s 2023 Cowboys cap hit climbed from $4.32MM to $4.57MM as a result of his recent extension, Todd Archer of tweets. The incentives in the three-year, $21MM contract include $500K bumps involving playing time and INT production. Five picks and the Cowboys making the playoffs would result in a $500K increase, Archer adds, noting the other incentive requires Hooker to play 85% of Dallas’ defensive snaps and the team to make the postseason (Twitter link).
  • The Cowboys, who turned Micah Parsons from an off-ball linebacker to a fearsome edge rusher, are giving Leighton Vander Esch some reps on the edge, Michael Gehlken of the Dallas Morning News notes. While the sixth-year linebacker received sparse edge work in games last season, Gehlken adds this is the first time he has received extensive instruction in a defensive end role. Rostering Parsons, DeMarcus Lawrence, Dorance Armstrong, Dante Fowler and Sam Williams, the Cowboys are much deeper on the edge than at linebacker. It would stand to reason LVE’s role will likely remain mostly as an off-ball defender.
  • The Giants recently added longtime safety Mike Adams to their coaching staff, ESPN’s Jordan Raanan tweets. A 16-year veteran, Adams will replace Anthony Blevins as the Giants’ assistant defensive backs coach, the New York Daily News’ Pat Leonard adds (on Twitter). Adams, 42, hung up his cleats after the 2019 season. Blevins left the Giants during the summer to accept an XFL HC position.
  • While Devon Allen did not see any game action for the Eagles last season, Berman writes the two-time Olympian hurdler is in play to make the team as a backup this year. Allen, 28, has not played in a game since working as an Oregon slot receiver in 2016. Shifting to track full-time proved beneficial for Allen, who is one of the best 110-meter hurdlers in U.S. history. But he opted to give football another try last year. He suffered an injury at the U.S. Championships last month, exiting the 110 hurdles competition before the finals in order to preserve his body for his second Eagles camp. The Eagles activated Allen from the PUP list Tuesday.
  • Given a reserve/futures deal along with Allen in February, Matt Leo landed on the Eagles’ reserve/retired list last month. The team hired the former practice squad defensive end a defensive and football operations assistant.

NFL Draft Pick Signings: 5/18/23

Non-first-round picks continue to sign their four-year contracts. We’ve collected today’s signings below:

Arizona Cardinals

Houston Texans

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Williams was one of the more intriguing prospects in the draft considering his status heading into the 2022 campaign. The Syracuse cornerback is still recovering from a torn ACL that limited him to only seven games last season. As the rookie told Darren Urban of the team’s website, he’s already progressed to running.

“You feel like football season is around the corner, but you’ve got to stay patient,” Williams said. “I can’t rush it. But obviously I can’t wait to put the cleats and pads back on … The hard part’s done. Now it’s the fun part, strengthening things, I’m able to run. I feel like a football player again.”

The defensive back also made it clear that he’s aiming to be back on the field for training camp, but he understands that the organization may want to bring him along more slowly.

“I am seeing it as, I can come back from this and make my story,” Williams said. “I see my life as a movie [and] make my movie that much cooler, that much better at the end.”