PHILADELPHIA — Three key Philadelphia Eagles players — running back Kenneth Gainwell, cornerback James Bradberry and safety Reed Blankenship — have been ruled out of Thursday’s home opener against the Minnesota Vikings.
Bradberry remains in concussion protocol while Gainwell and Blankenship are dealing with rib injuries. Defensive tackle Fletcher Cox has a rib injury as well and is listed as questionable.
The loss of Gainwell, who led the team with 14 carries Week 1 against the New England Patriots, should lead to a bigger role for D’Andre Swift. Getting Swift more involved was already on coach Nick Sirianni’s radar after the running back finished with just two touches in the opener.
“He’ll be in that role sometimes where he carries the load for the game, and he’ll be in the role sometimes like he was in last game,” Sirianni said, adding, “We don’t ever want to come out with him only having those many touches.”
Boston Scott and Rashaad Penny, who was inactive last week, should also receive playing time.
Without Bradberry — a second-team All-Pro last year — the Eagles are expected to turn to Josh Jobe, the second-year corner out of Alabama.
The secondary is further thinned out by the absence of Blankenship. Justin Evans, Terrell Edmunds and rookie Sydney Brown are the other safeties on the roster and could all see playing time against a Vikings attack that features receiver Justin Jefferson and tight end T.J. Hockenson.
Earlier this week, the Eagles placed linebacker Nakobe Dean (foot) on injured reserve.
With two vulnerable positions — linebacker and safety — further depleted, the Patriots attacked the middle of the field against Philadelphia on Sunday, primarily with tight end Hunter Henry, who ended with five catches for 56 yards and a touchdown.