August 25, 2019
When it comes to the Philadelphia Eagles starters, the preseason, however short it was, is essentially over now that just one meaningless game against the Jets stands between them and their Week 1 matchup against Washington.
In addition to Carson Wentz, there's a trio of Eagles starters who have yet to see the field this preseason, but according to Doug Pederson, things are looking up when it comes to them returning in time for the season opener.
On the defensive side of the ball, Pro Bowl defensive tackle Fletcher Cox (foot) and starting linebacker Nigel Bradham (foot) are both recovering from surgery following injuries suffered in the Eagles playoff loss to the Saints. On Sunday, Pederson was asked what he's expecting from those two defensive starters this week in practice.
"Well, a couple things. Number one, at least be able to get out there and go through the walk-throughs with the defense," the Eagles coach said. "Nigel [Bradham] has been able to do that last week and get out there and do some individual work, and Fletcher [Cox] was doing it for a while, and then now both of those guys -- for me realistically, I want to have everybody week one, and that's the goal.
"It's still the goal to have everybody week one. But they're sprinkling in in the walk-throughs this week, and then hopefully we get them all next week."
Of the two, Bradham certainly seems closer to returning, as he not only participated in the walk-through last week, but he was also cleared to participate in one-on-one and seven-on-seven drills in the Eagles' joint practices against the Ravens. That's good news considering the Eagles are also without fellow starting linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill, who suffered a Grade 3 MCL sprain earlier in camp.
When Pederson was asked specifically about Cox and his likelihood of returning for the opener, which is two weeks from Sunday, he sounded confident the 28-year-old lineman would be ready.
"I'm confident that he'll be there," Pederson said. "Listen, everybody is different, but I'm confident, and our goal is to have everybody ready."
But, as some who were on hand for the presser previously noted, Pederson's body language did not exactly match his words.
I’ll note that Doug didn’t look very confident when he said it, ha.— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) August 25, 2019
Next week's practices will be key for both these players.
On the offensive side of the ball, right guard Brandon Brooks continues to recover from his torn Achilles' tendon. And, by all accounts, that recovery is going extremely well. Last week, Brooks was cleared to participate in one-on-one drills, and said how his surgically-repaired tendon reacted to the increased workload would go a long way toward determining his status moving forward.
It must have gone well, because in addition to continuing his one-on-one work, Brooks will be getting some more team work this week, something he said would be a big step because it introduces the added danger of accidental contact with another player, like someone rolling into or landing on his ankle.
"Yeah, he's looking really good, in everything that he's doing, he's moving well," Pederson said when asked about Brooks. "We're still — he's been cleared to increase his load a little bit this week. We'll give him some more team reps this week and see where he's at.
"We just have to be careful. I mean, he's a big guy, and obviously with the injury. But he's looking good. He's looking powerful, and I'm excited about that."
So, will Brooks be ready to play against Washington?
"Thinking Week 1, but at the same time being smart as well," Brooks said, according to PhiladelphiaEagles.com. "If I’m physically not ready, then I’m not going to go out there and put myself in a bad position or put my teammates in a bad position. If I’m ready to go and I feel fine, then that’s what I’ll do."
If Brooks isn't ready to return, it'll be Halapoulivaati Vaitai getting the start at right guard for the Eagles.
Follow Matt on Twitter: @matt_mullin
Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports