PHILADELPHIA — Eagles linebacker Nate Gerry was all thumbs against Washington on Monday night.
Actually, he only had two, but that was one more than fellow linebackers Nigel Bradham and Kamu Grugier-Hill were able to use in the Eagles’ 28-13 victory over the Redskins.
Bradham and Grugier-Hill both have fractured thumbs. Gerry has full use of all his fingers, which came in handy against the Redskins.
He registered his first career interception in the fourth quarter, stepping in front of Redskins wide receiver Maurice Harris and snatching quarterback Mark Sanchez’s pass.
“It was my play to be made,” Gerry said Wednesday. “And I made it.”
He was actually the only linebacker who could have made it.
Bradham fractured his left thumb in three places in the first quarter — actually the third play from scrimmage — against the New York Giants last week. He underwent surgery the following day, which required pins and a metal plate to be inserted. Yet, he didn’t miss a down in the Eagles’ 25-22 win over the Giants and was also on the field for all 45 defensive snaps against the Redskins.
He had three tackles against the Redskins, tying for second on the team behind cornerback Rasul Douglas’ seven.
“It’s just something inside of me,” Bradham said last week. “I guess that’s the answer for it, really. It was definitely painful, but it was just something I had to get through.”
Grugier-Hill broke his right thumb against Jacksonville on Oct. 28 when he hit his hand on a Jaguars player’s helmet. He also had pins inserted.
Yet, he’s played 102 snaps in the last four games, including 23 against the Redskins. He had two tackles, including one for a loss.
“(The broken thumb) doesn’t affect my tackling,” Grugier-Hill said. “You don’t tackle with your thumb. I can still bend my other fingers and grip. And (the athletic trainers) cast my hand just before the game so that I’m still able to punch. The toughest part is that I’m right-handed, and I can’t write with it.”
Despite their injuries, Bradham and Grugier-Hill were part of a solid performance by the Eagles’ defense, especially when it came to tackling.
The unit surrendered a 90-yard touchdown run by Washington’s Adrian Peterson — the longest run from scrimmage against the Eagles in history — but were otherwise effective. Peterson managed to gain just 8 yards in his other eight carries. Fellow running back Chris Thompson had 3 yards on three attempts.
Wide receiver Josh Doctson broke free for a 32-yard gain in the first quarter but gained 19 total yards in his other two receptions.
“When we put guys on the field we feel like they can do their job,” Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said Wednesday. “Obviously, they’re a little bit hindered, but that’s the way it is in the NFL. They have enough use of their hand that they can wrap up and tackle.”
They have some major challenges ahead.
Back-to-back games at Dallas and at the Los Angeles Rams, respectively, bring showdowns against two of the league’s top running backs in Ezekiel Elliot and Todd Gurley.
Gurley is the NFL’s leading rusher with 1,175 yards and 15 rushing touchdowns. Elliott is second with 1,150 yards, including 151 against the Eagles on Nov. 11.
“Elliott is just so strong,” Schwartz said. “He’s hard to tackle one-on-one. He has enough speed that he can get to the edge and he can create big plays. He’s obviously one of the best backs in the league, and if we’re going to come out with a win (Sunday), we’re going to have to get him stopped.”