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Waiver wire loss of Christian Elliss requires Eagles special teams shuffle

PHILADELPHIA — To make room for veteran linebacker Shaq Leonard, the Eagles gambled that linebacker Christian Elliss would clear waivers and take a role on the practice squad. That would have allowed the Eagles to elevate him to the game day roster three times while they fully squared away the active roster moving forward.

But Ellis, a stellar special teams player, was claimed by the Patriots, leaving the Eagles to figure out how to distribute his snaps before a critical game with the Cowboys and their tenacious special teams.

The 24-year-old Eliss averaged almost 30 snaps per game. He registered 13 special teams tackles.

“We knew he had some good special teams tape out there,” Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said Friday. “I thought he played a good game the other day as well. We were hoping, but you know, happy for Christian to land on his feet. Obviously, we were hoping to get him back. But, yeah, he’s in a good place and I wish him the best of luck.”

The Cardinals, Titans, Falcons, Broncos and Dolphins also put in claims for the 6-3, 231-pound Ellis.

The Eagles have little choice but to replace Ellis by committee. Not the ideal fix considering the explosiveness of Cowboys returners Deejay Dallas and KaVontae Turpin.

“We’ll have a bunch of different guys that are taking different spots on all his different teams,” Sirianni said. “Really excited about Ben VanSumeren and what he’s been able to contribute to the special teams. But we’ll miss Christian’s contribution to it, and we’ve been really good on special teams this year.”

Cowboys punter Bryan Anger ranks second in the league with a net average of 45.5 yards per game. Cowboys kicker Brandon Aubrey leads the league with 114 points, having made all 26 field goal attempts, including 5 of 5 of 50 or more yards.

Eagles kicker Jake Elliott is a three-time special teams player of the week with 97 points on 21 of 23 field goal attempts. Elliott is 6 of 7 from 50 or more yards, including a 61-yarder.

The Eagles’ Britain Covey ranks second in the league with an average of 14.0 yards per punt return.

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The Eagles submitted an injury report with no players listed as out or doubtful, a good sign heading for their trip to Texas to play the Cowboys Sunday evening.

Other than wide receiver Julio Jones (groin), who was limited, the remainder of the Eagles practiced fully, including cornerback Darius Slay, nursing a sore knee.

The Eagles are ready to roll with tight end Dallas Goedert, whose absence has been missed in both the run and pass game. Goedert sat out three games after fracturing his forearm in the previous meeting with Dallas.

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The Cowboys are also healthy. Tight end Peyton Hendershot is ready to get back in the lineup after rehabbing an ankle injury.

Additionally, Cowboys head coach Mike McCarthy is on pace to be on the sideline Sunday despite undergoing an appendectomy this week.

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Jalen Hurts can become the second player in NFL history to record a passing and a rushing touchdown in nine games in one season. Kyler Murray of the Cardinals did that in 2020.

Bills quarterback Josh Allen has eight games with both a passing and rushing score in 2023.

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The Cowboys are 6-0 at AT&T Stadium in 2023 and have scored at least 30 points in each game. They are 3-3 on the road.

Dak Prescott has thrown for 1,854 yards (309 per game) and 18 touchdowns with two interceptions for a 126.8 rating in those home starts.

Since Week 2 of last season, the Cowboys have won 14 consecutive home games, the longest active streak in the NFL. They’ve also defeated the Eagles five straight times at AT&T Stadium.

Favored by 3.5 points, the Cowboys are vying to be the first NFL team to score at least 30 points in each of their first seven home games of a season. If the Cowboys put up a 40-burger on Sunday, they will be the first team to score 40 or more in four straight home games.

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Micah Parsons is vying to become the second player with 13 or more sacks in each of his first three NFL seasons since the late Reggie White accomplished the trifecta in 1982. Parsons has 38 sacks in a career that began in 2021.

Haason Reddick leads the Birds with 9.0 sacks.

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Daron Bland has eight interceptions for the Cowboys, including an NFL record five pick-sixes.

It’s been a season for the ages for the 2022 fifth-round pick out of Fresno State.

“Man, he’s having an amazing year,” Eagles receiver A.J. Brown said. “I think honestly, he probably has defensive player of the year in the bag. Hats off to him. But I’m excited for the matchup again. They have some good corners. But I’m not really worried about none of that. I’m going to go out and do my job and do my best.”

Source: Berkshire mont

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