The 27-year-old has logged 179 tackles, 10.5 sacks, and one forced fumble since entering the league as a fourth-round pick (No. 100 overall) in 2013. Spence most recently started 16 games for the Dolphins in 2018, where he played under former Miami defensive coordinator and current Eagles defensive special assistant Matt Burke. Spence gives the Eagles a fourth defensive tackle behind Fletcher Cox, Timmy Jernigan, and Hassan Ridgeway.
The Philadelphia Eagles opened up two roster spots on Tuesday by 1) officially placing Malik Jackson on injured reserve and 2) waiving tight end Alex Ellis. The team has yet to officially announce these moves but they appeared on the NFLs transaction wire.
Jackson to IR was an obvious decision since hes reportedly out for the season with a Lisfranc injury.
The Eagles only promoted Ellis from their practice squad to the 53-man roster last week. The third string tight end played 22 special teams snaps — second most on the roster — and two offensive snaps. Its entirely possible the Eagles sign Ellis back to their practice squad, assuming he clears waivers.
So, what are the Eagles going to do with their two open spots? Promoting Bruce Hector from the practice squad is an option with Jackson injured.
The Eagles might opt for bringing in a more experienced defensive tackle. The team reportedly worked out Akeem Spence, according to Field Yates. Spence has logged 57 starts in 88 career games played.
The Eagles also reportedly worked out veteran linebacker Paul Worrilow, which is weird for a number of reasons. Philly already has six linebackers on their roster and they released Worrilow back in August. Worrilow then signed with the Ravens and retired from the NFL just one day later. But I suppose hes not truly retired if hes working out for the Eagles. Maybe the Eagles plan to cut L.J. Fort — who played 18 special teams snaps and zero defensive snaps in Week 1 — and replace him with Worrilow in order to not lose a 2020 fourth-round compensatory pick?
Orlando Scandrick is another player worth watching. It was previously reported the Eagles might try to bring him back after Week 1 so his 2019 salary wouldnt be fully guaranteed. The Eagles also worked out two free agent cornerbacks last week: Briean Boddy-Calhoun and Juston Burris.
Defensive tackle Malik Jackson is out for the rest of the season with a Lisfranc injury that requires surgery, according to NFL Network. The team placed Jackson on IR Tuesday.
On Monday, Doug Pederson classified the injury as significant and while defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz stopped short of confirming the report, its clear the Eagles will be without Jackson the rest of the way.
Maliks an important part of what we do and well certainly miss him when hes (not) on the field, but we have plenty of guys who can step up and play, Schwartz said. Thats nothing new in the NFL. It doesnt change our task from game to game and it doesnt change our task over the course of the year.
The Eagles signed Jackson, 29, this offseason to be an important part of the defensive line. He was supposed to be that key DT next to Fletcher Cox, in a spot where the Eagles had a noticeable lack of depth last season.
Jackson signed a three-year, $30 million deal ($17 million guaranteed) with the Eagles in the offseason and they lost him one game into what they hope will be a championship season.
Well, the easiest and most obvious answer is Tim Jernigans role increases. Jernigan is finally healthy after missing most of last season and on Sunday picked up his first full sack since November 2017. While Jernigan might be known as more of a run-stuffer, Schwartz said they have confidence is his pass rush ability, too.
Luckily for us, we have depth, Nigel Bradham said. Its definitely going to be a loss. Its unfortunate. But we have Tim Jernigan and its a blessing to have him.
In the locker room on Tuesday, a few of Jernigans teammates said they think Jernigan looks to be back to the player he was before his back injury in 2018. Remember, Jernigan even played the last half of the 2017 season with an ankle injury, so this is the healthiest hes been in nearly two years.
Hes excited, Curry said about Jernigan. At the end of the day, we won a championship with this group. Hes excited, hes ready. Hes up for the challenge. Hes going to take this opportunity.
Without Jackson, the Eagles have Cox, Jernigan and Ridgeway on the roster as defensive tackles. Bruce Hector is waiting on the practice squad or the Eagles could try to bring in a free agent. But they also have Brandon Graham and Curry as defensive ends who have previously played inside. Even before Jacksons injury on Sunday, Graham got some snaps at DT. Heck, he made the biggest play of his career in the Super Bowl rushing from the inside.
The Eagles preferred to have Jackson on their third-down pass rush line, but will now likely revert back to using a defensive end inside at that position. Curry said the only difference when that happens is that things just get a little faster. Perhaps this could also mean more opportunity for Josh Sweat, Daeshon Hall or Shareef Miller.
While the Eagles are confident in their depth at that position — a healthy Tim Jernigan was one of their highest-caliber backup/rotational player going into the 2019 season — losing Jackson still hurts. Hes a former Pro Bowl player, who was supposed to thrive next to Cox, who constantly sees double teams.
Things definitely change, man, Curry said. Hes (a Pro Bowl) player, so the things that he brings to our D-line is awesome. Its tough that were going to have to play without him.