The Eagles released their first injury report of the week today and it was unsurprisingly concerning to read. Josh Sweat’s injury will be costly, seeing Fletcher Cox missing practice is never a good sign, and depth in the secondary looks light once again. The hardest hit of all may well come on special teams. Cameron Johnston is still in concussion protocol and this shouldn’t be overlooked.
It was unclear when Johnston picked up the knock, he was punting at the beginning of the third quarter and averaged 38.3 yards per punt during the loss to Arizona. With Johnston down, Jake Elliott stepped up to the plate and posted an average dip of around 3 yards per punt, but the real damage came on an Elliott kick.
After Jalen Hurts zipped into the endzone to tie the game at 26-26, Zach Ertz ran onto the field in place of Johnston – whose role on field goals is to hold the snap. Lovato shovelled a bad snap to the franchise tight end and the attempt was botched.
Obviously, finding a holder is easier than finding a punter and should be something the Eagles can address during the week. But if Johnston doesn’t clear protocol by Sunday, his absence would be noteworthy.
Johnston ranked inside the top 15 of just about every metric possible in 2019, with his average of 46.4 yards per punt ranking him 9th in the NFL. He’s averaging 47.7 yards per punt this year, with 21/42 landing inside the opponent’s 20-yard line. This is somehow an improvement on what was already an extremely solid resume.
Johnston’s net punting average of both 42.7 (2018) and 42.3 (2019) both ranked inside the top 30 net single-season averages of all time prior to the start of the season. He established franchise records in both net and gross punting average, ranking third and fourth in the entire NFL.
The Eagles offense has been dire this season and despite the recent explosion of Jalen Hurts, their third-down conversion has actually taken a 6% dip over the last 3 weeks (37.04%). Overall, they rank 27th in this metric.
Johnston has been quite literally saving the Eagles from giving up some painfully short field position this year. In fact, the only teams to have punted more are the Jets, Bengals, and Washington. Johnston’s 61 punts have generated
Finding a punter off the street won’t be too hard. Finding one of Johnston’s caliber certainly would be.
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