Eagles hopeful Avonte Maddox will return to practice this week

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Eagles hopeful Maddox will return to practice this week originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Eagles are hopeful ace slot corner Avonte Maddox can return to practice this week, a month after suffering a toe injury in the Eagles’ loss to the Cowboys on Dec. 24.

However, his availability for the NFC Championship Game Sunday against the 49ers remains uncertain.

Nick Sirianni said Tuesday he’s hopeful Maddox will be on the field in some role when the Eagles begin their practice week on Wednesday.

“We’ll see,” he said. “We’re hopeful, we’re hopeful. But he’s still got to go out there and run on the field and do drills.”

Injuries have limited Maddox to nine of the Eagles’ 18 games this year, and he’s missed 22 games in his career. But when healthy, he’s one of the NFL’s better slot corners.

Even though it seems unlikely Maddox will play against the 49ers, the fact that he’s at least close to practicing does seem to indicate that if the Eagles do reach the Super Bowl, he’d be available by then.

As for this week, it sounds like the Eagles will run Maddox through some tests to see where he is with the injury before deciding how to proceed.

“It’s not something that we know quite yet because there’s some unknown of some of the football movements that he has to go out there and do,” Sirianni said. “We’ll see. We’ll have more for you this week on that.”

Maddox missed the last two games of the regular season and the Giants playoff game, and was seen in the locker room in a walking boot.

But the Eagles didn’t place him on Injured Reserve, which would have ended his season. Maddox was on IR from the second Washington game through the Tennessee game after suffering a hamstring injury vs. the Texans. Players can come back after four weeks from their first trip of the season to IR, but a second trip to IR is season ending.

So the Eagles kept Maddox on the 53-man roster with the hope he could return at some point. Maddox also missed the Jaguars and Cards game early in the year with an ankle injury.

Maddox was seen at the Giants game at the Linc Saturday night without the walking boot.

Maddox, the Eagles’ 4th-round pick in 2018, is a tough, hard-nosed, physical cornerback at 5-foot-9, 185 pounds, who has found a home in the slot. Although he’s not technically a full-time starter, he did start eight of nine games this year and in the seven games he played start to finish he was on the field for 87 percent of the Eagles’ defensive snaps.

He had 43 tackles, three tackles for loss, one sack, one interception, three forced fumbles, one fumble recovery and three pass knockdowns in nine games this year.

With Maddox out, the Eagles initially used Josiah Scott in the slot. But when Chauncey Gardner-Johnson returned, Jonathan Gannon moved him into the slot in nickel situations, with rookie Reid Blankenship joining Marcus Epps at safety.

If Maddox comes back, Gannon will have to decide who to play where. Blankenship has been very good, and it would be hard to take him off the field. But however you look at it, getting Maddox back would be huge.

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