Eagles didn’t open practice window for Chauncey Gardner-Johnson

The Eagles began practice Wednesday without opening a practice window to protect Chauncey Gardner-Johnson, who looks likely to be unavailable to play Sunday.

Gardner-Johnson went on injured reserve on December 3 after suffering kidney failure during the Eagles’ victory over the Packers on November 27.

Gardner-Johnson is now eligible to be active after missing the required minimum four games – Titans, Giants, Bears and Cowboys. The Eagles face their former team, the Saints, at the Lynx on Sunday and will clinch the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoff bracket and a first-round bye with a win.

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But as practice began at 1:45 p.m., the club had not announced the opening of Gardner-Johnson’s 21-day practice window. Opening his practice window would allow him to rejoin the team, giving the Eagles 21 days to either activate him or place him on injured reserve, ending his season.

Jordan Davis and Avonte Maddox were able to play the week they resumed practice. Dallas Goedert had to wait an extra week. But opening the practice window at least shows that a player is nearing the point where he is capable of playing.

With all previous players coming off IR, the Eagles opened their practice window before Wednesday’s practice, the week they returned to action.

With CJGJ not opening a practice window, it is unclear when he will be able to return. The Eagles finish the regular season against the Saints and Giants and will open the postseason the weekend of January 14-16 if they are a wild-card team or receive the No. 1 seed in the NFC on January 21-22.

It’s still conceivable – but not at all likely – they could open up their practice window this weekend and still bring him back for the Saints game.

Despite missing the last four games, Gardner-Johnson shared the NFL interception lead with Seahawks rookie cornerback Tariq Woollen. His six INTs are the most by an Eagles safety since Greg Jackson had six in 1994 and Terry Hoage had eight in 1988.

The Eagles acquired Gardner-Johnson from the Saints on August 30. He is in the final year of his four-year, $3.3 million rookie contract.

With Avonte Maddox now out indefinitely with a toe injury, the Eagles are losing their two key defensive backs.

Undrafted rookie Reed Blankenship is starting at safety in place of Gardner-Johnson, and Josiah Scott is Maddox’s replacement.

If the Eagles got Gardner-Johnson back, they could move him in place of Maddox and keep Blankenship safe. If not, it appears he has no real choice but to play Scott, who has struggled for most of his time.

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