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    SUBSCRIBER EXCLUSIVEEagles practice report: Rodney McLeod practices for second straight day, Avonte Maddox added to injury list

    Updated: 4:07 p.m. | Published: 4:06 p.m.Eagles safety Rodney McLeod practiced again Thursday. McLeod is still looking to make his 2021 season debut as he continues to come back from an ACL tear he suffered last season. Lori M. Nichols | NJ Advance Media for

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    By Chris Franklin | NJ Advance Media for
    PHILADELPHIA – On one of the far fields at the NovaCare Complex Thursday, Eagles safety Rodney McLeod stood awaiting instructions from the coaching staff about the next scheduled drill that would involve the defensive backs.

    With a brace on his left knee, McLeod began working on his dropbacks, acting as if he were reading a tight end or wide receiver coming off the line of scrimmage, shifting his hips every few yards to simulate a change of direction.

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    Could McLeod be making the same motions covering San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle Sunday afternoon at Lincoln Financial Field? It remains to be seen.

    McLeod was limited for the second straight practice. However, McLeod continues to show improvement as he recovers from a torn ACL he suffered last season. The Eagles activated McLeod off of the Physically Unable to Perform (PUP) list before the season began. McLeod had targeted last week’s game against the Atlanta Falcons as his targeted return date, but he was inactive for the game.

    One of his replacements, safety Marcus Epps, left the Falcon’s game with a concussion. Epps, who was also limited in practice, was seen at practice, wearing a green hoodie under his jersey as he ran around the field.

    Having McLeod or Epps return for Sunday will be a significant factor in how the Eagles defend Kittle and the area between the hash marks against the 49ers. When the Eagles defeated the 49ers 24-20 in last season’s matchup, Kittle caught 15 passes for 183 yards and a touchdown. Compounding the importance of both safeties, 49ers quarterbacks C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens combined were 18 of 21 in their passing attempts of up to 20 yards between the numbers in last year’s game, according to Pro Football Focus.

    The Eagles are hoping to limit the amount of damage done this year by using different methods of covering Kittle. If the 49ers duplicate a similar attack, the defense might rely on McLeod or Epps to “bracket” Kittle or playing as the free safety in the middle of the field in zone coverage. The onus could fall on second-year player K’Von Wallace or the recently acquired Andre Chachere if neither McLeod nor Epps can play.

    The Eagles did add cornerback Avonte Maddox to the injury list. Maddox was a limited participant Thursday with a groin injury. Maddox’s injury is worth watching because the 49ers like to line up speedy wide receiver Deebo Samuel in the slot, potentially creating a problem for the Eagles. Samuel caught nine passes for 189 yards and a touchdown in the 49ers Week 1 win against the Detroit Lions. If Maddox somehow is not ready to go, the Eagles may have to rely on Chachere or rookie cornerback Zech McPhearson to play inside as the nickel cornerback.

    Several veterans such as Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks, Brandon Graham, Jason Kelce, Fletcher Cox, Darius Slay, and Miles Sanders all returned after receiving a day of rest Wednesday. Defensive end Ryan Kerrigan (personal matter) also returned to practice.

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    After being held out with an ankle injury Wednesday, wide receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside returned to practice and was limited. Arcega-Whiteside was seen taking part in individual drills with the wide receivers.

    The Eagles will release the official injury designations, such as who is questionable, doubtful, and out of Sunday’s game at some point Friday.
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