Four days after playing a dozen special-teams snaps for the Buffalo Bills Sunday at Carolina, Trae Elston was sitting in the NovaCare locker room wearing a No. 35 Eagles jersey and a puzzled expression.
"I just got here. I'm just trying to learn, man. Whatever the coaches tell me, I'm just trying to do it," Elston said, when asked if he thought he could learn enough about the Eagles' scheme to play any safety Sunday against the Giants. "They really haven't explained [any possible role] yet."
Safeties Rodney McLeod, Corey Graham and corner/safety Jaylen Watkins all sat out practice again Thursday. All three suffered hamstring injuries Sunday at Kansas City, further depleting a secondary that already had lost top corner Ronald Darby for four-to-six weeks to a dislocated ankle suffered in the season opener.
Right now, the safeties on the Eagles' roster are Malcolm Jenkins, special-teams ace Chris Maragos, and Elston. Linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill again took a few safety snaps in practice, Grugier-Hill said.
"Nothing crazy," Grugier-Hill said.
But Sunday's Eagles secondary might be. Would defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz try some sort of four-linebacker look, with Grugier-Hill covering in the box? Is there any way to get Elston ready, even for one specific package?
"I really don't know," Elston said, when asked if the Eagles' defense was similar to what he played in with the Bills. "I'm just trying to run fast, do it full speed."
Elston, 23, 6-feet, 190, was on several practice squads last season, but he made the Bills' roster out of training camp and was active for both games so far this year. The Eagles claimed him off waivers on Wednesday.
If Schwartz gets really desperate, he did praise rookie defensive tackle Elijah Qualls for the seamless way Qualls dropped into coverage once in Kansas City. Qualls (6-1, 321) said he had to play some outside linebacker last year at Washington.
"A couple of our outside linebackers got hurt, and I was the only one [from another position] who knew the defense," he said.
Asked if he'd be up for a shot at safety, as well, Qualls played along.
"Don't try to go to the post with me back there," he cautioned.