Fletcher Cox, the Eagles' first-round rookie defensive tackle, returned to Philadelphia in time for Thursday's final workout of the spring, and was very glad to see his teammates.
"It took my mind off it today, me being back out here with the team, and everybody just smiling and just getting back at it," Cox said.
He'd gone home to Yazoo City, Miss., over the weekend following the auto accident death of his cousin and close friend, 21-year-old Melvin Baker. "I'm the kind of guy, I like to smile and I like to have a lot of fun. Even when I went around his mom [after returning for the funeral], the first thing we did was smile at each other. She means a lot to me. She's like my mom."
Baker and Cox spent so much time together, one of Cox's thoughts upon hearing the news was that "If I had been at home, I would have been in the car with him," Cox said. "God has a plan for me."
As Associated Press report said Baker died early Saturday morning when a 2006 Chevrolet Impala he was riding in swerved to avoid a deer and overturned. "He got ejected from the car. He died from head trauma and chest trauma. The good thing about that is that he's not suffering," Cox said.
"We grew up, did everything together. We rode 4-wheelers, we rode horses, everything. What I ate, he ate. He'd go to my mom's house, I'd go to his mom's house.
"It touched a lot of people [in Yazoo City]. They knew Melvin ... Melvin was a great guy, a great dad. He had two kids. He had a little brother, a young sister. He was the oldest."
Now that the Eagles have completed spring workouts and won't convene again until rookies report to Lehigh July 22, Cox will go home and try to help relatives deal with the tragedy, he said.
"I'm being strong for his family," Cox said. "They know I'll be there, I'll always be there."