Injuries continue to decimate key positions for Eagles as the former starter returns to safety

The Eagles are adapting quickly to injuries that continue to decimate the safety position while also affecting an important part of their special teams.

In safety, the Eagles are reportedly bringing back a familiar face in Anthony Harris, who was a full-time starter for them last season. Harris was released before the season started before signing with the Denver Broncos as an exhibition squad player. He came in three games before being released last week.

The Eagles need Harris because Reed Blankenship, who started in place of Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, injured his knee in the Eagles’ 48-22 victory over the Giants. Gardner-Johnson is injured reserve and cannot return until January 1 at the earliest.

But the Eagles also need to replace punter Arryn Siposs, who suffered an ankle injury against the Giants. The Eagles are reportedly planning to sign veteran Brett Kern, who played for the Tennessee Titans from 2009-21.

Kern will join a unit that has struggled this season. Point returner Britain Covey, like other special teamers and coordinator Michael Clay, has come under some criticism this season.

“When you have such good offense and defense, there’s this kind of understanding that special teams are there not to screw it up,” Covey said Sunday after the special teams made another blunder against the Giants.

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Of course, that came when Siposs’ punt was blocked from his end zone, the second time the Eagles have blocked a punt this season.

Siposs recovered the ball and then began running down the sideline to the first-down marker before being knocked out of bounds at the Eagles’ 15-yard line. He hurt his ankle during the game and was helped off the field and then taken to the dressing room on a trolley.

Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said Monday that the injury “looks like it’s going to take a little longer than we expected.” It remains to be seen if Siposs will go on injured reserve, forcing him to miss four games. That would mean that Siposs can only return at the beginning of the playoffs at the earliest.

Kern, who is 36, was selected to three Pro Bowls during his career.

Kicker Jake Elliott took over punting duties against the Giants. With the Eagles’ offense scoring on 8 of 10 possessions, Elliott only had to punt once. That went 35 meters long. The ball was downed without a return on the Giants’ 25.

Trainers attend to Philadelphia Eagles punter Arryn Siposs (8) during an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022, in East Rutherford, NJ (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

Trainers attend to Philadelphia Eagles punter Arryn Siposs (8) during an NFL football game against the New York Giants, Sunday, Dec. 11, 2022, in East Rutherford, NJ (AP Photo/Bryan Woolston)

“It got the job done,” Elliott said. “No return, which is always a good thing.”

Covey took Siposs’ spot as holder on field goals and extra points.

Elliott hit both attempts with Covey holding on. Covey said he was the keeper of his team in high school. He was also the backup keeper in college at Utah all four years and occasionally worked on it in practice as he did with the Eagles.

“I was always trying to get Coach (Kyle) Whittingham to set me up,” said Covey. “(In the NFL) it’s one of those things where it just adds value. You want the coaches to feel comfortable with you in any position. They can use me on the kickoff, as a shooter, on the return of kickoff, blocker, whatever it is.”

There was more on the bright side for the Eagles’ special teams. Covey had three returns of at least 20 yards against Tennessee on December 4, having never had one longer than 15. Covey had a 16-yard turning point against the Giants.

In addition, Boston Scott returned a punt for 66 yards. That came right after the Giants took advantage of blocking Siposs’ punt with a touchdown to cut the Eagles’ lead to 21-7 with 2:57 left in the first half. Scott’s return went to the Giants’ 35 and the Eagles ended the half with a field goal.

Scott also returned a kick from 37 yards in the second half.

The coverage units have also been better. Giants kick returner Gary Brightwell, who played at St. Georges in Delaware, only averaged 19.3 yards on 3 returns.

“We’ve been so close to so many things all year, we’re kind of tired of just being so close,” Covey said.

More injury updates

In other news, Sirianni said injuries to Blankenship (knee) and RT Lane Johnson (abdomen) do not appear to be serious, although it is likely that Blankenship will miss at least one game with the signing of Harris.

Blankenship, a rookie, had started in his place alongside Marcus Epps. That leaves K’Von Wallace as the only other healthy safety on the 53-man roster, though Josiah Scott can play there.

“We’ll see if we need to do something with safety,” Sirianni said. “We’ve already talked about them (with GM Howie Roseman), and they’re on top of everything we need to fill the roster.”

Please contact Martin Frank at mfrank@delawareonline.com. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.

This article originally appeared in Delaware News Journal: Eagles, decimated by key injuries, re-sign Anthony Harris

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