More Sports:

May 31, 2024

Eagles players, staff taking unique, deliberate approaches to staying healthy

Jordan Davis and other key Eagles are making sure they do the little things to stay on the field this season.

Eagles NFL
Jordan Davis 072622 Eagles Training Camp Colleen Claggett/For PhillyVoice

Eagles DT Jordan Davis said he's "leaner" this spring.

It's no secret that oftentimes, the healthiest team is the one that makes it to the end of an NFL season.

During their Super Bowl run two years ago, the Eagles had a remarkably clean bill of health as they fell one win short of a second championship. Last year the injury bug was more impactful, doing Philly no favors as they collapsed at the tail end of the 2023 regular season.

There's no tried and true method for keeping a player on the field. Freak injuries happen, but conditioning and practicing the right way play a very big role, and the Eagles staff and players know that as a new season begins to bud in South Philly. 

Players like defensive tackle Jordan Davis are returning "leaner," as he characterizes his 350-pound frame, and with a new commitment to giving their massive athletic bodies a better chance at staying on the gridiron.

"It's really just diet," Davis told media members after practice Thursday. "Cutting out the juice and stuff. Making minor changes to lifestyle, being more active in my lifestyle if I have a day off, making sure I do something active. Whether that's walking outside, I am getting into backpacking now, going on little hikes and stuff like that trying to be more one with nature and stuff like that, little stuff to get me outside. I don't want to be sedentary."

Davis says he drinks a lot more water now and a lot less AriZona Ice Tea, which makes a difference. 

For edge rusher Nolan Smith, it's also about little things. Like making sure he's paying attention to all the small things he can do to increase his chances of having good health — including stretching his toes.

"I put on toe spacers," Smith said. "Made sure my knees and stuff are right. When you all go home, your feet should be like your fingers, you should be able to wiggle your toes and space them out. I learned that from Lane [Johnson]."

Another defensive player, Isaiah Rodgers, was unable to play last season as he served a gambling suspension. He looked locked in at practice on Thursday, playing well with the first-team secondary and grabbing a pick-six off Jalen Hurts during 7-on7s. As he spoke to the media, he credited his fitness in May to his mentality now while he was stuck at home.

Rodgers said he stuck with an NFL schedule. He had cardio workouts on Sundays and took Tuesdays off, mimicking what he'd be doing at the NovaCare Complex. Whatever works, right?

Wide receiver Parris Campbell has battled injuries his entire career but has said he was very impressed with how seriously the Eagles take injury prevention.

"They are very very detailed," Campbell, who is fighting for a spot as the Eagles' No. 3 receiver said. "Fernando [Noriega, the Eagles conditioning coach] and his team, they are super detailed. Even today, we got these things where we rate our soreness from the prior practice... I've been in places where it's been like that, but this is a step up. They are very attentive to that stuff and it's very beneficial to the players."

The team was relatively healthy in 2023, despite big names like Nakobe Dean, A.J. Brown, Avonte Maddox and Darius Slay missing key games — as well as having a clearly less than 100% Hurts under center.

There was some criticism that perhaps the Eagles ran out of gas due to their light practice schedule last summer. Head coach Nick Sirianni purposefully avoided as much potential for injuries as he could – believing less was more on the field — and it worked in 2022, but maybe not in 2023. Will he reverse course and intensify things this offseason?

Spring practices and training camp are not only about getting the best 53-man roster ready for the season. They have an impact down the line as fans painstakingly saw back in December and January. The tone is already being set by the players right now, and fans can take some solace in seeing how seriously everyone is already taking that task.

Follow Evan on Twitter:@evan_macy

Like us on Facebook: PhillyVoice Sports