On Monday, the Philadelphia Eagles confirmed what had been speculated rampantly over the last 24 hours: both fullback Leonard Weaver and center Jamaal Jackson will be out for the season.
The team confirmed that Weaver tore his ACL on that oft-played gruesome hit during Sunday’s second quarter, and that Jackson tore a triceps muscle minutes later. The latter injury was initially reported as a torn biceps by NBC Sports and other outlets, but either way, it is an injury that will cost Jamaal the rest of 2010.
Both men are now on injured reserve, and the Eagles made three corresponding roster moves on Monday: FB Owen Schmitt was signed to replace Weaver, TE Garrett Mills was promoted from the practice squad to fill Jackson’s roster spot, and 2009 draft pick G/T Fenuki Tupou was re-signed to Mills’ spot on the practice squad.
Great, but that leaves the Eagles short of centers; Mike McGlynn is now the starter, with the only experience backup being Nick Cole—who currently starts immediately to McGlynn’s right. And no, long snapper Jon Dorenbos doesn’t count; he makes 10 snaps a game tops on a good day, and the team prefers to keep it that way because a good long snapper is a valuable commodity.
So here we are. Mills is a nice addition to the roster, but the Eagles must eventually fill that roster spot somehow. But with who?
Here are a few potential candidates.
Many fans, including several readers here on B/R, have consistently wondered why Mawae wasn’t in the Eagles’ plans for 2010. After all, he was an eight-time Pro Bowler (with the eighth trip coming just last year) with a reputation as one of the best in the league, and his durability (14 or more games played in all but one of his 15 NFL seasons) was unquestioned.
Until now, though, the answer to “Why Not Mawae?” was simple: the team felt comfortable that Jamaal Jackson would be able to come back from his torn ACL and play at a high level early in the season; he was and did, so a one-year stopgap wasn’t needed.
Well, now Jackson’s out for the rest of 2010 with a different injury, so that answer is shot.
Mawae would be a great choice to replace him, but he might be a hard one to make; the veteran announced his retirement last Friday after failing to sign anywhere, and as he’s currently the President of the NFLPA, he could have a lot on his plate this fall trying to prevent a 2011 lockout.
Mawae’s recent comments indicate he really has no desire to play this season, but as anyone who has ever participated in any form of athletics can attest to, that desire never really goes away.
On the topic of one-year stopgaps, Hartwig would probably be the next best one to Mawae.
Hartwig, an eight-year veteran, was released by the Steelers in September after two seasons as their starting center. It had nothing to do with him failing, as he was simply beaten out by first-round draft choice Maurkice Pouncey, and the team felt that his $2.08m salary was too much for a backup.
That scenario was nothing new for Hartwig, who suffered the same fate in Carolina (thanks to Ryan Kalil) after the 2007 season. In an odd twist, Hartwig was also actually the guy that Mawae replaced in Tennessee, as when he signed with the Panthers, the Titans brought Mawae in from the Jets.
His multiple shunning aside, Hartwig has also been fairly durable in his career, and at only 31, he could be a useful asset next season and beyond as well if need be. As much as Jackson is considered the Eagles’ guy, he’s now suffered two major injuries to two completely different areas in this calendar year alone.
The most probable in-house option, Shipley was signed to a three-year deal in January as a backup plan in case Jackson wasn’t able to return this season.
Of course, he was, so Shipley was let go in final cuts and immediately signed to the practice squad.
Thanks to a combo of smart thinking and cruel fate, he might be back sooner rather than later.
A true guard, Reynolds was also let go in the Birds’ final cuts and re-signed to the practice squad. He took some reps at center in the preseason, though, and his presence could serve a dual purpose.
As I said in the intro, if McGlynn is now the center, than starting right guard is his only experienced backup. If the Birds were inclined to move him back there for any reason, it could be Reynolds who gets the call; he would fit in as the third guard behind Todd Herremans and Max Jean-Gilles, and also be the third snapper in a pinch.
With Shipley on the practice squad as well that scenario would be a long shot, but stranger things have happened.
With the two big options and the two in-house choices exhausted, let’s go for some wild cards.
Who is Jesse Boone? Well, as of now, he's the incumbent center for the UFL's Las Vegas Locomotives.
Boone started all seven games of the Locomotives' 2009 UFL Championship campaign, and barring something like this happening, he'll be there again when that season opens in a couple weeks.
Prior to that, Boone was a team captain and first-team All-Mountain West in his senior season at Utah, and since graduating in 2006, has seen time in four leagues; he's been on the practice squads of both the Raiders and Bengals, and in addition to his UFL success, has played for the Rhein Fire of NFL Europa and the Arena Football League’s Utah Blaze.
All different games from the NFL to be sure, but Boone has been around and at least been playing over the last few years.
So hey, why not?
And finally, a little less of a wild card.
If you recognize the name, it's probably because you know Donovan's brother Dominic, who currently plays for the Detroit Lions.
But little brother also has some NFL cred. In five years since leaving Wisconsin, Donovan has been a practice squad/camp body for the Rams, Steelers, Rams again, Seahawks, Cardinals, Bears, and finally the Buccaneers, who had him this summer but released him in final cuts.
As of now, he's set to be the center for another UFL squad, the expansion Omaha Nighthawks...but as his rap sheet proves, he's at least worth an NFL look.