Timmy Jernigan has been cleared to practice

Jake Roth - USA TODAY

When the Philadelphia Eagles released defensive tackle Bruce Hector to make room for newly-acquired Golden Tate last week, a Timmy Jernigan return was imminent.

Fast-forward a week later and Jernigan has been cleared to return to practice.

Jernigan hasn’t played all season due to surgery of a herniated disc during an offseason workout in March. Jernigan signed a four-year, $48 million extension with $26 million guaranteed prior to the end of last season, but due to the injury, the Eagles could’ve released and declined to pay him. The Eagles reworked his deal and are no longer liable for the $11 million guaranteed that he’s due in 2019. The final three seasons of the pact are now option years too.

Jernigan was placed on the reserve/non-football injury list at the beginning of the year and was eligible to return after Week 6. The NFI list is different than injured reserve, which only allows two players to return from it. The Eagles currently have three players on it. Richard Rodgers (knee) was eligible to return in Week 8, Mack Hollins (groin) is eligible to return in Week 9 and Mike Wallace (fibula) Week 10.

Philadelphia is down to Fletcher Cox, Haloti Ngata and Treyvon Hester as the defensive tackles on its roster. Jernigan’s return was much-needed.

Jernigan, who was acquired for a swap of third-round picks from the Baltimore Ravens during the 2017 offseason, stepped up early in 2017 when Fletcher Cox missed two games due to a calf injury. Jernigan’s presence allows Cox to see less double and triple teams. Cox and Jernigan were slicing into backfields to stop the run and collapse the pocket consistently in 2017.

That dynamic duo will have to return to that dominant play in the second half of the season if the Birds are going to make some noise.

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