Eagles outside linebacker Travis Long suffered a torn ACL in his left knee during Thursday night’s preseason finale and is out for the season, according to the Inquirer’s Jeff McLane.
Long had drawn praise from the coaching staff all summer. An undrafted free agent last year, he figured to be a part of the rotation at outside linebacker. Long had also been cross-training at inside linebacker and was being counted on to add some depth there as well.
But because of the injury, he’ll be out for the season.
The blow affects the Eagles at a couple different spots. At outside linebacker, Connor Barwin and Trent Cole are the starters. Brandon Graham figures to be the first rotational player. If the coaches feel first-round pick Marcus Smith II is making progress, Long’s injury could mean more snaps for him. If they don’t feel Smith is ready, Barwin should get used to once again playing a ton of snaps. He played the eighth-most snaps among defensive players in 2013.
Bryan Braman is also still alive at outside linebacker, but he’s viewed as more of a special teams player.
As we mentioned above, Long was getting looked at as the fourth inside linebacker. According to Eliot Shorr-Parks of NJ.com, that role will now be filled by Casey Matthews, who sticks around another year. Matthews has experience playing outside, inside and special teams. Because he can wear those different hats, he’ll likely dress on gamedays. Shorr-Parks also reports that inside linebacker Emmanuel Acho will be released.
Long was not a starter, and he’s never played an NFL snap. But clearly, the coaching staff was high on him and felt he could fill a role in his second season.
Instead, Long will undergo months of rehab on his knee, and the team will look for answers elsewhere.