Eagles CB Ronald Darby practices for first time since Week 1 injury

ByTim McManus ESPN logo
Monday, October 23, 2017

PHILADELPHIA -- The Eagles appear close to getting a key defender back in the lineup. Cornerback Ronald Darby is going to practice this week for the first time since dislocating his ankle in the season opener against the Washington Redskins.

"I can't commit at this time that he is going to be ready [for Monday's game vs. Washington], but we're going to get him some reps this week and then see where he's at," coach Doug Pederson said. "But he's doing extremely well."

Desperate for corner help, the Eagles traded receiver Jordan Matthews and a third-round pick to Buffalo before the start of the season for Darby, a blazing fast corner who was runner-up for Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2015. He was projected to be the Eagles' No. 1 corner before a gruesome injury Week 1 along the sideline. An MRI revealed less damage than anticipated, and he was given a recovery time of four to six weeks.

Earlier this season, Pederson mentioned the rematch against Washington as a target return date.

"Obviously with the time off, there's a lot of things involved [when gauging whether he's ready to play]," Pederson said. "Conditioning, No. 1, is probably the most important thing. How sore does he get during the week? And by no means do I want to rush him back and just say, 'Hey, we said this is the week' or whatever, 'let's go play.' There are a lot of factors that have to be sort of right. The stars have to align in order for him to be ready to go."

The Eagles' defense has found a way to succeed despite the loss of Darby. The front four are generating good pressure for defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, while a corner group that includes Jalen Mills, rookie Rasul Douglas and Patrick Robinson has exceeded expectations.

Running back Wendell Smallwood will be limited to start the week, Pederson said. The team needs to see whether the swelling in his knee stays down before knowing for sure whether he'll be available Monday night after missing the past two games.