Avonte Maddox

Eagles activate Avonte Maddox, shut down Albert Okwuegbunam, promote a linebacker

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Fifteen weeks after he went on Injured Reserve, slot corner Avonte Maddox is back.

The Eagles activated Maddox to the 53-man roster Saturday after a three-month rehab from a torn pectoral. Maddox got hurt in the Week 2 win over the Vikings. The Eagles opened his practice window on Dec. 21 and he’s worked without any complications the last two weeks.

Maddox has been injured a lot – he’s played only 15 of a possible 36 games over the last two seasons – but when healthy, he’s a smart, tough, physical and experienced inside cornerback.

To make room on the roster for Maddox, the Eagles placed veteran tight end Albert Okwuegbunam on Injured Reserve. He popped up on the injury report with a hamstring injury on Friday.

With Maddox out, the Eagles used just about every available defensive back in the slot at some time or other. Mario Goodrich, Eli Ricks, Sydney Brown and James Bradberry are among the inside corners the Eagles used, with mid-season acquisition Bradley Roby getting most of the snaps in recent weeks, although he missed three games with a pec strain.

Considering the length of his layoff – Maddox hasn’t played 108 days – it’s unlikely Maddox will get a full workload when he returns against the Cards on Sunday at the Linc. Most likely the Eagles will try to ramp up Maddox over the next two weeks so he’s ready to handle more snaps by the postseason.

How Matt Patricia will mix and match Roby and Maddox remains to be seen, but any way you look at it, getting a player like Maddox – originally the Eagles’ 4th-round pick in 2018 – is huge. Maddox is one of only nine position players remaining from the 2018 season.

The Eagles acquired Okwuegbunam just before the regular season began in a minor trade with the Broncos – the Eagles sent the Broncos a 6th-round selection in 2025 in exchange for the veteran tight end and a 7th-round pick.

But while Okwuegbunam caught 54 passes for 546 yards and four touchdowns in three years with the Broncos, he was a non-factor with the Eagles. He played 57 snaps in four games, was targeted once and didn’t catch a pass. 

The Eagles also elevated linebacker Brandon Smith from the practice squad. Smith, 22, was a 4th-round pick of the Panthers last year and played in 12 games, with 53 snaps on defense and 211 on special teams. He made his Eagles debut in the Giants game last week as a game-day elevation and played 18 snaps on special teams.

Zach Cunningham (knee) and Nicholas Morrow (abdomen) were both limited in practice all week, leaving Shaq Leonard and Ben VanSumeren – last week’s starters – as the only healthy linebackers on the roster. The Eagles list Cunningham as questionable for Sunday but Morrow doesn’t have an injury designation so is likely to play, although how much remains to be seen.

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