August 19 Philadelphia Inquirer
“When the Eagles broke training camp on Aug. 12 of last year, the team was thought to be in disarray.
The middle linebacker was out for the season, three-fifths of the offensive line was sidelined by injury, and a budding tight end had torn up his knee for the second consecutive August.
Somehow that team finished the season 11-5 and reached the playoffs.
A year later, a younger Eagles team – average age 24.2 – is considerably healthier at the conclusion of camp. Coach Andy Reid, of course, tried his hardest to test his troops over three-plus weeks of mostly two-a-day practices.
“I’ve tried to challenge them the best I can from a physical and mental standpoint here,” Reid said Wednesday, “and they’ve stepped up to that challenge.”
Reid estimated that an extra week of camp produced 200 more plays. That’s 200 more opportunities for injury, but the worst in that regard are center Nick Cole’s chronic knee swelling and running back Mike Bell’s strained hamstring and calf.
Three preseason games remain to be played, beginning with Friday’s visit to Cincinnati. But the Eagles are likely to enter the regular-season opener against Green Bay in much better shape than they started a year ago.
The 2009 team that opened at Carolina was without middle linebacker Stewart Bradley, right tackle Shawn Andrews, left guard Todd Herremans, and tight end Cornelius Ingram. Stacy Andrews, Shawn’s older brother, started the opener at right guard, but he wasn’t ready to return from off-season knee surgery and spent most of the remainder of the season on the bench.
The Eagles’ injury woes did not end there. Linebacker Omar Gaither, Bradley’s replacement, suffered a Lisfranc foot sprain and was shelved for the season, as was cornerback Ellis Hobbs, who required back surgery. The capper came in the penultimate game of the regular season, when center Jamaal Jackson tore an anterior cruciate ligament.
Two blowout losses to Dallas followed, and the Eagles, by the end of the season, were a tattered bunch. Five days after their first-round playoff loss, the Eagles fired strength and conditioning coaches Mike Wolf and Jay Merlino. Two weeks later, they promoted Barry Rubin and Ken Croner to those positions.”
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