Nick Sirianni: A.J. Brown “fought like crazy” to be able to play

A weird vibe has emerged generally for the Eagles in recent weeks. A very weird vibe has specifically emerged between the Eagles and receiver A.J. Brown.

That’s why some have raised eyebrows that Brown is out for Monday night’s playoff game, with a knee injury. The news came a day after Brown removed all Eagles content from his Instagram page — which has become a very common device for NFL athletes to send messages.

Meeting with reporters on Saturday, coach Nick Sirianni addressed Brown’s status.

“It was going to be a stretch for A.J. to play,” Sirianni said. “He did everything he possibly could to get himself ready. Obviously, you all saw the reports. It’s not looking like he’s going to go, but he fought like crazy to try to do everything he could do to do so, which doesn’t surprise me at all about A.J. He’s tough and he’d do anything for his teammates. Unfortunately, he won’t be able to rip it this week.”

Sirianni was asked whether he regrets putting his key players in harm’s way against the Giants last week.

“At that time, I did what I thought was best for the team, and I’ll stick by that,” Sirianni said. “And so, I don’t regret — am I upset that A.J. is not playing because he got dinged in that game? Of course, I am. But no, I don’t second guess that decision.”

Sirianni was also asked when he knew Brown wouldn’t play.

“I don’t think that’s fair,” Sirianni said. “I don’t think that’s relevant. We made plans with or without him. I won’t get into, ‘Hey, we knew this day or that day.’ So, like I said, he fought all week to try to try to get ready. It was always going to be a stretch. We always knew it was going to be a stretch.”

Sirianni explained that different guys will fill the void.

“I mean, I think that’s been a big-time strength – or one of our big strengths as a team — is the pass catchers we have,” Sirianni said. “And when you look at it, you think about A.J., you think about Dallas [Goedert], you think about DeVonta [Smith]. And then you think about D’Andre [Swift] and the role that he has, as well. And I’m not even mentioning Julio [Jones] and those guys, and Quez [Watkins] and [Olamide Zaccheaus], who’ve made plays throughout the year, as well, so [I’m] excited for those guys to get a little bit more opportunity.

“Obviously, you always miss the contributions that A.J. makes. He’s a phenomenal player, but [I’m] really excited about the opportunity. And I know we’ve got – one reason we’re in this game and in this position is because of the pass catchers we have, in addition to A.J. Brown.”

It will still be a challenge to win without Brown. If they do it Monday night, we’ll see if they have to try to do it next weekend, in San Francisco or Dallas or Detroit.

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