NEXT man up! After recent surgery to repair a herniated disc in his back, DT Timmy Jernigan will be out for 4 to 6 months. That means he’s going to miss OTA’s, any mini-camps, and likely most (if not all), of training camp and all four preseason games.
Upon his return to action during the season, he probably won’t be in proper football shape just yet. That opens the door for someone to step up and push for Jenigan’s starting role. Specifically DT Destiny Vaeao. Understand that “push” for the starting role, and “challenge” for the starting role mean very different things here.
By “push” I mean that if Jernigan is out longer than anticipated, the starting role would lean more towards one player inheriting it, than towards having several players split it.
To “challenge” would mean that Vaeao showed enough to make coaches consider taking the starting role from Jernigan. So far Vaeao hasn’t shown himself to be that player. However, in all fairness, he’s never had an opportunity to start and/or play extensively.
This however could be his opportunity, despite there being five other DT’s on the roster. Let me explain why it should be him and not the other five:
1) Timmy Jernigan – He’s out, and that’s the reason his spot is open.
2) Fletcher Cox – He’s already starting, so he can’t be competition.
3) Haloti Ngata – He’s the no-brainer pick to start, right? Wrong. He wasn’t brought here to play extensive minutes on a weekly basis, early in the season. Running him down early compromises him for when we’ll really need him.
4) Elijah Qualls – He wasn’t active for 10 of 16 games last season. He didn’t even start during preseason Week 3, or the regular season’s Week 17 garbage game, so it’s unlikely that he’d get the nod while the season is still on the line.
5) Winston Craig – He didn’t start a single preseason game in 2017, and didn’t make cutdowns last year. He was brought back AFTER the Super Bowl. He might have just been a camp body if Jernigan didn’t have surgery, but if he acts up in camp, he could use this opportunity to challenge Qualls for his roster spot.
All this makes the spot Vaeao’s to lose. Unless of course, the Eagles fuck up and opt to overuse Ngata, which undercuts the plan for him, and in turn undercuts the whole Defense. The Eagles are too smart to Eli things up that bad.
So keep your eyes focused on the interior of our Defense during camp and preseason. It’ll give you something to root for, until the NFL begins throwing us franchises to eat on September 9th.