The Philadelphia Eagles are uncertain of the status of Pro Bowl tight end Zach Ertz for Sunday’s regular season finale against the New York Giants. Ertz left portions of Sunday’s Week 16 win over the Dallas Cowboys with a rib injury, only to return and play the majority of the game.
NFL Network reported Ertz suffered a fractured rib in the game, which occurred on a Carson Wentz deep pass across the middle that was incomplete. As Ertz was in the air, he was hit in the rib cage by Cowboys safety Xavier Woods. Ertz was ruled questionable to return before coming back and finishing with four catches for 28 yards. Dallas Goedert filled in for Ertz with a career-high nine catches for 91 yards and a touchdown.
“It is [a good sign] that he got back out there,” Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said Monday. “It just shows his toughness and willingness to get back out there, but as you guys know, we take every injury seriously and make sure that we protect our players.
“That is what Mondays are for, to do a full evaluation of all our guys who get nicked up in games.”
Ertz has 88 catches for 916 yards and four touchdowns this season and six touchdowns, which leads the Eagles. The three-time Pro Bowl tight end surpassed Jason Witten more most receptions for a tight end through his first seven seasons Sunday, as Ertz has 557 to Witten’s 553.
If the Eagles are without Ertz, that would leave them without their No. 1 tight end, No. 1 running back at the beginning of the season in Jordan Howard, and their top three receivers in Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson and Nelson Agholor. Jeffery is on injured reserve and is out for the season while Jackson can not return until the playoffs and Agholor has missed the past three games with a knee injury.
Philadelphia would have Goedert and No. 3 tight end and No. 4 wide receiver Josh Perkins in the backup tight end role. Philadelphia has played the past several weeks with rookie JJ Arcega-Whiteside, Greg Ward and Robert Davis as their top three wide receivers, the latter two playing on the team’s practice squad a month ago. The three receivers have a combined 34 catches for 397 yards in their careers.
Not having Ertz for Sunday would be a problem for the Eagles, who need to beat the Giants to win the NFC East title. The Eagles could also win the division if the Cowboys lose to the Washington Redskins, but control their own destiny in this division race.
Having Carson Wentz’s No. 1 target Sunday would certainly make life easier.