PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Eagles cornerback position has been hit so hard by injury they've had to borrow from the offensive side of the ball to get through practice.
"You take some young receiver, plug them in on the defensive side if they're servicing the offense [on scout team]," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said Friday. "It's a little challenge because sometimes you won't get the right look that you need in practice, but one of the things that our guys have done and done well is their willingness to go out and service and provide the look that we do need, and a lot of time it's from your younger receivers."
The secondary is likely to be severely short-handed against Odell Beckham Jr. and the New York Giants on Sunday. There is a real possibility that defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz will be without his top five corners. Ronald Darby (knee) is on injured reserve; Jalen Mills (foot), Sidney Jones (hamstring) and Avonte Maddox (knee, ankle) have been ruled out; and Rasul Douglas (knee) is listed as questionable but has not practiced this week.
"I think the biggest challenge is just the rhythm, the continuity, communication sometimes, body language, understanding the defense," Pederson said of rolling with three inexperienced players at one position. "All of those things that kind of come with being around at OTAs, being around at training camp. The fact is, everything matters now, everything counts. They have to understand that and step their game up."
One of the most startling facts surrounding this development is that LeBlanc, Sullivan, and Bausby weren't even on the active roster as of a month ago. Bausby was released by the team in early September, re-signed to the practice squad on Nov. 5 and promoted to the 53-man roster a couple weeks later. Sullivan, a rookie out of Georgia State, was promoted to the active roster in late October. LeBlanc was claimed off waivers from the Detroit Lions in early November. He is on his third team this season, having been waived by the Chicago Bears in September.
"It's a rocky road. That's part of the business," LeBlanc said. "You can't hang your head. You've got to believe, have faith."
LeBlanc noted that he does have experience against Beckham. He faced him in 2016 while with the Bears before exiting the game with a concussion.
Beckham has three touchdowns in his past two games and the Giants offense is starting to hit its stride. The team scored 27 points against the San Francisco 49ers and 38 against the Tampa Bay Bucs in their last two outings -- both wins.
The Eagles' secondary, meanwhile, was lit up in a 48-7 pummeling at the hands of the New Orleans Saints last week, and enters this Sunday's game with just one original member from the starting secondary still standing: safety Malcolm Jenkins.
"It's a great opportunity for them. We always talk about the next man, and they are the next men," Pederson said. "They've worked extremely hard this week in practice so far, and it will be another great opportunity for all three of those guys really to kind of step up and really help the defense against an offense right now that is playing well."