NFL notebook: Veteran safety Corey Graham ready to start for Eagles

Associated Press
With safety Rodney McLeod for Sunday’s game against Tennessee, veteran Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Corey Graham is ready to fill the void. - Eric Gay | AP file photo

PHILADELPHIA — Corey Graham is ready to fill a starting role.

The Philadelphia Eagles won’t have safety Rodney McLeod for Sunday’s game against Tennessee and a report says he’s going to miss the rest of the season following knee surgery on Thursday. Coach Doug Pederson is expected to update McLeod’s status on Friday.

Graham has played 55 percent of the defensive snaps, so the 33-year-old is already a key part of the defense. He has started 66 games in his 12-year career.

“I’m prepared and I’m ready to go,” Graham said after practice. “It really doesn’t change much. I’ll probably just play double the amount of plays now. But the way we do things, I’ll be in the same role.”

McLeod missed only two games in his previous five seasons. Graham called him the “fix-it guy” in the secondary.

“If something went wrong, he was back there to fix it,” Graham said. “It’s a tough loss. He’s one of our core guys. It’s hard to replace a guy like Rodney.”

The Eagles rely on three safeties quite a bit in their defense. That’s why Graham has played more than half the snaps. It allows defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz to use Malcolm Jenkins in a variety of ways, include nickel cornerback and linebacker, along with his usual safety spot.

Deiondre’ Hall is the only other safety on the active roster and Tre Sullivan is on the practice squad. Backup cornerback Rasul Douglas has safety skills.

“We cross-train a lot of guys,” Jenkins said. “We’re versatile. We have guys who can come in and play a role. I don’t know if we’ll hand over Rodney’s entire package to one guy. It might be sliced up.”

Rodgers returns for midweek practice

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ injured left knee has apparently improved to the point where he can take part in a midweek practice.

Rodgers was limited in practice on Thursday as Green Bay prepares to face the Buffalo Bills this weekend. It is the first time that the quarterback would take part in a midweek practice since getting hurt during the season-opening win over the Chicago Bears.

The Packers usually practice on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, with Thursday being the most intensive day of preparation. Rodgers missed midweek practices the previous two weeks to focus on rehab, while returning for the team’s lighter practices on Saturday.

Titans release Matthews

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans now are without their top two receiving threats this season, releasing wide receiver Rishard Matthews after they couldn’t trade the veteran.

General manager Jon Robinson said Thursday morning that Matthews talked with him last week about being unhappy, then came to him Monday requesting to be traded or released. The Titans talked with several teams, but Robinson said nothing came from those discussions with Matthews unhappy over his role in the offense.

“It had reached kind of maybe a point of no return for him,” Robinson said. “I told him several times, several times, that I know you can help this football team. I believed in him. That’s why we signed him a couple years ago, and he’s been good for our football team the last couple years.”

The Titans currently are without three-time Pro Bowl tight end Delanie Walker who broke his right ankle in the season opener.

Matthews was one of the first free agents signed by Robinson after he became Tennessee’s general manager in 2016. The wide receiver led the Titans with 1,740 yards receiving and 13 touchdowns combined over the past two seasons and started 20 of 30 games in that span.

Coming off injuries that limited him through the offseason and preseason, Matthews had not started once. He also had only three catches for 11 yards.

Browns’ Taylor back at practice

BEREA, Ohio — Tyrod Taylor’s first days as a backup for the Browns have been difficult.

And not just because he lost his job.

Taylor, who was replaced as Cleveland’s starter by rookie Baker Mayfield earlier this week, was cleared from concussion protocol and returned to practice Thursday, but was limited by a back injury that could prevent him from being Cleveland’s No. 2 quarterback on Sunday in Oakland.

Coach Hue Jackson said Taylor was limited and there’s a chance Drew Stanton will be the backup when Mayfield makes his first NFL start against the Raiders.

“We will see exactly where that is,” Jackson said. “He did not do a lot, so I will make sure that if we do put him out there, that he’s ready to go. Obviously, Drew has been there since the situation with Tyrod had happened. We will see where that is. I will know more about that tomorrow.”

Jackson plans to make a decision on his No. 2 quarterback Friday before the team flies to California.

With safety Rodney McLeod for Sunday’s game against Tennessee, veteran Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Corey Graham is ready to fill the void. safety Rodney McLeod for Sunday’s game against Tennessee, veteran Philadelphia Eagles defensive back Corey Graham is ready to fill the void. Eric Gay | AP file photo

Associated Press