REPORT: Eagles sign former Titans 1st round pick as LB Nakobe Dean finds himself on Injured Reserve

PHILADELPHIA, PA – DECEMBER 22: Philadelphia Eagles helmet sits on a cart during the game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagle on December 22, 2019, at Lincoln Financial Filed in Philadelphia, PA. (Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire)

The Philadelphia Eagles entered the 2023 campaign a little light at linebacker, with question marks dotting the position group. One game in and the depth chart is already getting an unexpected makeover.

Nakobe Dean injured his foot in the season opener after getting his feet tangled up with safety Justin Evans. The second-year linebacker had seen just 49 defensive snaps before exiting the game. He’s expected to miss “about a month,” per NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport. That’s actually a best-case scenario.

Meanwhile, the Eagles inked veteran linebacker Rashaan Evans to the practice squad for insurance. The 27-year-old has 67 career starts under his belt during stints with the Tennessee Titans and Atlanta Falcons. Evans, a two-time national champion at Alabama, was a first-round pick (No. 22) of the Titans in 2018. The 6-foot-2, 232-pounder earned a 59.6 overall grade from Pro Football Focus last season (55.9 in coverage, 66.5 in pass rush, 63.5 in run) while registering a career-high 159 tackles (tied for No. 7 in the NFL).

Evans will likely be elevated to the active roster in the coming days. The Eagles can also choose to elevate veteran Nicholas Morrow from their practice squad. Patrick Johnson, Nolan Smith, Christian Elliss, and Zach Cunningham round out the depth chart at linebacker.

Evans was on the Alabama roster in 2018 during the controversial national championship game when Hurts was benched at halftime for Tua Tagovailoa. He saw benefits in the playing styles of both quarterbacks, choosing to take the diplomatic approach about which one was the better option as the starter.

“If you think about it, Jalen has probably been one of the winningest quarterbacks that we can probably think of to this day. I know if we have Jalen at quarterback, I know we’re going to win,” Evans said, via Saturday Down South. “Then, you’ve got Tua, who is a talented guy. You can just tell he has an NFL arm. To be honest, I don’t really know. I can’t give you an answer.”

Eagles HC Nick Sirianni Assesses Overall Defensive Performance

Head coach Nick Sirianni watched his offense struggle mightily in the season opener against New England. They ran 61 total plays for 251 yards, including 97 yards on the ground. The team racked up only 17 first downs as multiple offensive drives sputtered and stalled. The gameplan was more vanilla than a Nabisco wafer.

Defensively, the Eagles clamped down when they needed to. Christian Elliss and Zach Cunningham were the Eagles’ primary linebackers once Nakobe Dean left Sunday’s game. They combined for eight tackles while doing a nice job controlling the bleeding, particularly against the Patriots’ vaunted running game. Sirianni talked about the overall play of his defense after the Week 1 victory.

“Yeah, any time you create two turnovers that lead to 14 points, that’s big time, right. That’s the difference in the game, right,” Sirianni told reporters. “Jordan [Davis] making that great play on the screen and then also the coverage that happened and the pressure that happened on the interception for a touchdown that Slay finished. Slay has a great knack to get the ball and finish plays like that. You know, obviously we have a lot to clean up on all phases, but I was pleased with the defense and the pressure that we got.”

Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire