Pats wary of Eagles TEs after Chung ruled out

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — The New England Patriots ruled out starting safety Patrick Chung for Sunday’s road game against the Philadelphia Eagles due to injuries to his heel and chest, which is a notable blow given his penchant for matching up well against opposing tight ends.

The Eagles, led by the tandem of Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, run as many two-tight end sets as any team in the NFL, according to Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

Chung had been limited in practice throughout the week, as the Patriots were coming off their bye week. He had played in the loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Nov. 3, but in a more limited role than usual (27 of 67 snaps).

Seven-year veteran Duron Harmon projects to start in Chung’s place.

The Patriots have first-hand knowledge of how challenging it can be to match up against Ertz, as the tight end had seven catches for 67 yards and a touchdown in the Super Bowl LII victory against New England.

“He’s really good at everything,” Belichick said of Ertz this week. “He’s a tough guy to match up against. He’s got a good feel in zone coverage for spacing and when to do the right thing. … They move him around a lot. Until they come out of the huddle, it’s hard to really know where he’s going to be. He lines up in the tight-end traditional location, but not a high, high percentage of the time.”

Because of that, and because the Eagles having a banged-up wide receiver corps with Alshon Jeffery out for the game with an ankle injury, the Patriots could consider putting a cornerback on Ertz at times.

Meanwhile, the Patriots also ruled out rookie running back Damien Harris due to a hamstring injury. The third-round draft choice from Alabama has been active for just two games this season.

Tight end Matt LaCosse, who injured his MCL on Oct. 10, is on the trip, putting himself in position to make his return to action.

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