Philadelphia Eagles rookie Jalen Carter has already made a big impression over his first month of NFL play. However, the Eagles are still easing him into the lineup, just as they did with fellow defensive tackle Jordan Davis during his rookie season last year. After all, this team has strong depth in the trenches, so there's been no need to throw Carter right into the fire.
That being said, Philadelphia's front four may experience a shakeup in Week 5. Veteran Fletcher Cox recently received an epidural to alleviate his ongoing back injury, and Derrick Gunn of JAKIB Sports is reporting he'll miss Sunday's contest.
Assuming this is the case for the upcoming tilt against the Los Angeles Rams, then that sets up Carter for a true breakout performance.
While Carter hasn't logged a start over the first four weeks, he's still earned a featured role right away. He's played 48% of the team's defensive snaps so far, becoming a consistent rotational piece for Sean Desai's unit.
The No. 9 overall pick has made the most of his opportunity whenever he's been on the field so far, recording 1.5 sacks, 2 tackles for loss and 2 forced fumbles just one month into his NFL career. Seeing just under 50% of the available playing time leaves quite a bit of room for those numbers to improve, though.
Cox, meanwhile, has been a stable presence at starting DT once again for Philly. He's played in 70% of the defensive snaps, putting him on the field the majority of time while the likes of Davis, Carter and Milton Williams rotate depending upon the situation.
Remove Cox from the equation, and his average of 46 snaps per game suddenly become up for grabs. Considering how similarly Carter profiles to the veteran, he's an obvious candidate to see a noticeable uptick in work.
That could have a big impact. It'll give Carter even more plays to make his presence felt in the backfield while stopping opposing ball carriers or the quarterback. Shortening the rotation up may also mean longer stretches in the game instead of constantly go back and forth from the bench to the huddle.
For Nicki Sirianni and his staff, they should want to see as much of Carter as possible. This is who they invested a top-10 pick in, and taking the mantle from Cox was one of the primary driving factors beind drafting him. With the 32-year-old on the mend, this is the ideal time to see what Carter could do in a bigger role.
A matchup with the Rams is the perfect scenario for Carter to show out as well. Los Angeles QB Matthew Stafford currently leads the league in passing attempts at 166, so the Eagles' pass rush will be plenty active in Week 5. That means plenty of chances for Carter to get to the quarterback and try to disrupt LA's gameplan.
Carter's already a leading favorite for Defensive Rookie of the Year, but he could really separate himself from the rest of the pack with this opportunity in Week 5.
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