Eagles cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, one of Philadelphia’s celebrated free agency acquisitions, injured his left knee during practice Thursday and was taken off the field on a cart.
The Eagles had no comment on the extent of the injury and a team spokesman said Asomugha’s status would be updated on Friday.
Cornerback Joselio Hanson told The Philadelphia Enquirer he heard the injury was not serious.
“It looked bad, but they said he was going to be all right, expecting to come back (Friday) and practice,” Hanson said.
Asomugha was participating in a non-contact drill on the grass fields adjacent to the team’s NovaCare Complex when he was hurt. The 30-year-old, a three-time Pro Bowl pick and four-time All-Pro selection, leads the Eagles (4-6) with three interceptions — two in his last four games.
With Pro Bowl cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie already out with an ankle injury, the Eagles could be down to just one of their celebrated Pro Bowl cornerback trio of Asante Samuel, Rodgers-Cromartie and Asomugha when they face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots (7-3) at Lincoln Financial Field Sunday.
The Patriots have the second-ranked offense in the NFL. The Eagles have allowed 18 touchdown passes. Only three teams have allowed more.
”It’s a short-lived career, and to see a guy go down, you just hope it’s not as severe as what you saw initially,” said cornerback Brandon Hughes, who would likely receive expanded playing time if Asomugha can’t play Sunday. ”That’s what we’re hoping.”
Asomugha, who spent the 2003 through 2010 seasons with Oakland before signing a five-year, $60 million contract with the Eagles, has missed just six games in nine seasons.
Because Asomugha plays so many different roles — outside corner, inside corner and safety — it could be difficult for the Eagles to replace him with just one player. They have only one more practice before Sunday’s game.
”We’ve got to stick to the game plan,” strong safety Kurt Coleman said. ”Nnamdi’s definitely a big piece of what we do on defense, but we have guys we can rotate in, guys who can do similar things. Everybody has to step up their game if he can’t go. Everybody has to pick up the slack.”
Samuel will start at one cornerback spot Sunday. The other healthy cornerbacks on the roster if Asomugha can’t play are veteran Joselio Hanson, who has started 18 games for the 49ers and Eagles since 2003; Hughes, originally a fifth-round pick of the Chargers in 2009; and rookie third-round pick Curtis Marsh.
”One guy goes down, next guy goes in,” Marsh said. ”That’s why everybody goes to meetings every day, so when you step in, you know exactly what’s going on.”