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Why Eagles brought back Josiah Scott to secondary this week

The Eagles made a move this week to bring back Josiah Scott from the Steelers' practice squad.

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NBC Universal, Inc. Dave Zangaro and Reuben Frank discuss the Eagles bringing back Josiah Scott ahead of a Week 7 matchup with the Dolphins.

Even though Josiah Scott had kept in touch with his former teammates in Philadelphia, he hadn’t exactly been following along with all of the injuries in the Eagles’ secondary.

He found out about them on Sunday night when his agent called.

And before long, the 24-year-old defensive back was on his way back to Philadelphia as a member of the Eagles’ 53-man roster.

“It was a pretty quick turnaround,” said Scott, who was officially signed to the Eagles’ 53-man roster on Wednesday. “But I was always ready, always prepared. Anything happens, I would be ready for it.”

The Eagles on Tuesday signed Scott and waived second-year cornerback Mario Goodrich. After Goodrich cleared waivers, the Eagles signed him to their practice squad. So now they have both at their disposal.

But signing any player off another team’s practice squad is a three-week commitment to that player, so picking up Scott is about more than this upcoming game. 

Scott had been on practice squad Injured Reserve in Pittsburgh so when the Eagles called his agent this week, they were curious about his health. Scott on Wednesday said he had already healed completely from the hamstring injury that landed him on the list so the Eagles decided to bring him back as their own injuries continue to pile up in the secondary.

The latest injuries in the secondary came to safety Reed Blankenship (ribs) and nickel cornerback Bradley Roby (shoulder) in the loss to the Jets. So it was clear the Eagles needed more bodies in the secondary.

Why go back to Scott?

“The experience that he had,” Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni said. “With some of the other changes that are happening in the secondary, we know that we've played in big games with Josiah and he’s done well in those games. He had an interception last year against New Orleans. Obviously, we lost that game, but we played well on defense and Josiah was a big part of that.

“So, we've got confidence in him. We've got confidence in the person. We've got confidence in the player. So, I think a little bit of that was just his experience in this city, his experience with this team, his experience with these guys on this team. He was here during training camp as well, so I think that's really what played into bringing Josiah back.”

Scott was with the Eagles for the 2021 and 2022 seasons and actually played in 29 games with 4 starts for the Birds during that span. Last season, he had 26 tackles, 2 interceptions and 8 pass breakups, although he lost his spot in the defense late in the year. But after arriving to 2023 training camp buried on the depth chart at nickel cornerback, Scott was released in late August and left Philly to join the Steelers’ practice squad.

This summer, Scott was behind Avonte Maddox, Zech McPhearson and Mario Goodrich at the nickel corner spot on the depth chart. Then McPhearson suffered a season-ending injury in preseason and Maddox tore his pec in Week 2. That left the Eagles with Goodrich and Eli Ricks as their potential slot corners once Sydney Brown hurt his hamstring, so they went out and got Roby. And now he’s hurt too.

Scott was just a phone call away and he didn’t hesitate to come on back.

“Nothing is ever personal in anything in this business,” Scott said at his locker on Wednesday. “I’ve been friends with these guys this entire time. We’re in a group chat. Regardless of where I went, we were still in a group chat, talking all the time. Nothing was ever weird. It’s not weird coming back. Everyone is welcoming me back. I’m happy to be here.”

The Eagles initially acquired Scott in a trade with the Jaguars, who drafted him in the fourth round out of Michigan State in the 2020 draft. Scott played just six games with the Jags as a rookie before getting traded to the Eagles in May of 2021.

While Scott (5-9, 185) certainly looks like a slot cornerback, he has also played some snaps at outside cornerback and at safety for the Eagles. While the Birds look like they’re in good shape at outside cornerback with Darius Slay and James Bradberry, the nickel and safety spots have been decimated by injuries. Adding a player with some versatility made sense.

But because of those injuries in the secondary, Scott might need to play significant reps on Sunday night against the NFL’s No. 1 offense when the Dolphins come to town. So he’s spending these days making sure he remembers this defense and is ready to go.

“It can be tricky,” Scott said. “But at the same time, I’m a very smart player. I always joke around that any defense I’ve been in, it’s all right here still. It just takes a little bit of time on task to just revisit those notes. I feel pretty confident.”

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