On opening day last year against the St. Louis Rams, the Philadelphia Eagles opened up with Trent Cole, Mike Patterson, Cullen Jenkins, and Jason Babin on the defensive line. Today, all four of those players are sidelined with an injury.
Last week, news broke that Mike Patterson would miss an extended amount of time with no scheduled comeback. Philadelphia knew this in advanced and prepared by drafting a rookie to fill his spot, Fletcher Cox. However, the Eagles probably didn’t think there would be this much fragility on the line that is praised for being one of the toughest in the NFL. When Jason Babin suffered a calf strain last Sunday in the teams first day of contact practice, it frightened many people. Granted a 2-3 week recovery window is great news, the fact of the matter is an injury is still an injury. It didn’t end there. This week saw the Eagles two other defensive line players go as well. Yes, Trent Cole left practice Monday with swelling in his shoulder joint and Cullen Jenkins suffered a minor hamstring injury in Wednesday’s practice.
Even though Babin, Cole and Jenkins are scheduled to return in just weeks and will be fully recovered with plenty of time before the season opener, the Eagles are starting to see what the New York Giants have been dealing with- injuries.
As I previously mentioned, the Eagles first day of full-contact practice was last Sunday. It appears obvious those six months off has really laid some players back, but these injuries are better now than later. Even though they’re minor, should the Eagles be worried?
With Babin and Cole out, this gives time to the younger players to get some extra reps in and to possibly work their way up on the depth chart. Brandon Graham, Darryl Tapp, Phillip Hunt, and Vinny Curry are the four reserves at DE and are all looking to shine in these upcoming weeks. At DT, Fletcher Cox, Derek Landri, Antonio Dixon, Cedric Thornton, Frank Trotter, and Ollie Ogbu are all healthy and provide a little extra depth to the line.
I know contact is crucial in practice, especially August. But with these recent injuries to key players, maybe the Eagles should spend a little more time stretching.