May 27, 2024

The Eagles have granted veteran safety Justin Evans access to practice, marking a pivotal step in his potential return to the lineup. Initially securing the second safety position during training camp, Evans, acquired by the Eagles in March, showcased his skills in the first three games but encountered setbacks with a neck injury in Week 3 and a subsequent knee injury in Week 5, leading to his placement on Injured Reserve on Oct. 13.

Having missed four games, Evans is now eligible for activation. The team’s decision to open his practice window allows him to engage in practice sessions while remaining on Injured Reserve. The Eagles have a 21-day window to either activate him for play or conclude his season (or release him).

2023 NFL Free Agency: Philadelphia Eagles to sign Justin Evans

Throughout the four games he participated in this year, Evans accumulated 15 tackles, two pass deflections, one forced fumble, and one fumble recovery in 197 defensive snaps. Injuries have been a recurring theme in Evans’ career, with only 43 games played since his 2017 draft, and a hiatus from 2019 through 2021.

During Evans’ absence, the Eagles acquired Kevin Byard from the Titans, who started the last two games with varied success. Terrell Edmunds filled in at safety for three games, subsequently traded to the Titans as part of the Byard deal. The Eagles also deployed rookies Sydney Brown and Edmunds in a game against Miami when both Blankenship and Evans were sidelined.

If the Eagles decide to activate Evans, defensive coordinator Sean Desai may explore rotational opportunities for him, offering added depth to a position that has relied on Sydney Brown as the sole healthy backup on the 53-man roster. However, considering Desai’s inclination to rotate atypical positions, Evans could find a role even when Blankenship and Byard are available.

The potential activation of Evans would necessitate a corresponding move to open up space on the 53-man roster, with slot corner Josiah Scott being a plausible candidate. The Eagles also made moves on the practice squad, signing tight end Noah Togiai and offensive lineman Lecitus Smith. Togiai, in his third stint with the Eagles, played in three games over parts of three seasons, while Smith, a 6th-round pick by the Cardinals in 2022, appeared in 10 games with two midseason starts last year. Additionally, the team released practice squad tight end E.J. Jenkins, signed on Nov. 1.

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