The Philadelphia Eagles are down another linebacker a week into training camp. Kamu Grugier-Hill, in competition to start at linebacker opposite Nigel Bradham, suffered a Grade 3 MCL sprain during Saturday’s training camp practice and is expected to miss some regular-season time, per Mike Garafolo of NFL Network.
The Eagles also are without Bradham, who has yet to practice after undergoing surgery to repair ligaments on his toe this offseason. Bradham is still rehabbing his toe and his return to the practice field is uncertain.
Grugier-Hill was in a competition with free agent acquisition Zach Brown for the starting linebacker job opposite Bradham. Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz admitted earlier in the week, but Brown is expected to be the starter going forward. Schwartz wouldn’t commit to where Brown stood in the defense at the time, but that stance is expected to change with Grugier-Hill out.
“It’s training camp. That’s what his role is,” Schwartz said. “Do whatever it takes in training camp, whether it’s outside linebacker, inside linebacker, MIKE (middle linebacker). All our guys play multi-dimensional and just work hard within the defense. Our roles and depth chart will be determined by what happens in training camp at the end, not what somebody does on an individual basis or anything else.”
The Eagles also have free agent acquisition L.J. Fort entering the competition to take Grugier-Hill’s snaps. The former undrafted free agent had his best season in 2018 with the Pittsburgh Steelers, finishing with 48 tackles, three quarterback hits, a sack, and a fumble recovery. He also finished fourth on the Steelers in special teams tackles and blocked a kick in a Week 16 loss to the New Orleans Saints.
Fort was the linebacker Pittsburgh asked to play inside on coverage snaps and really became their only linebacker to play regularly. The Steelers trusted Fort in base formations and kept him inside in dime packages, showing his versatility against the run and ability to drop back in coverage. He could play a similar role with expanded snaps.
The Eagles suddenly are depleted at linebacker after adding quality depth this offseason. Besides Grugier-Hill and Bradham, Paul Worrilow has been held out of practice with a knee injury. Worrilow missed the entire 2018 season with a torn ACL.
Grugier-Hill had 45 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble in 10 starts for the Eagles at the WILL (weak-side linebacker) last year and can play all three linebacker positions. Opposing quarterbacks had just a 68.3 passer rating targeting Grugier-Hill, proving he’s one of the better coverage linebackers in the game.
The Eagles did receive good news in that Grugier-Hill won’t be out for the season, but that will still leave them looking at different options in Week 1.