Cornerback Ellis Hobbs was back on the practice field Monday, though he still did not participate in 7-on-7 or full team drills as he recovers from a herniated disc, an injury that he said made his legs go numb during a game last year.
Hobbs, however, said he expects to be a starter after mostly playing off the bench last year, a role he described as "terrible." He also plans to keep returning kicks for the Eagles, and said he should be "full go" when training camp opens in late July.
"I feel like I’m ready," Hobbs said, but he and the team staff want to be careful with his recovery. "There's no need to go out there and be a hero in the month of may or anytime soon."
He said he participated in enough practice to work on the mental aspects of the game covered today, but then returned to the locker room for training, rather than standing and watching others in the team drills, when the offense faces the defense, though without pads or tackling.
Hobbs said he would not feel any trepidation about returning from a neck injury.
"Beyond medical scientific belief I’m a firm believer in Christ and believe God works in mysterious ways and I wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for a purpose, whatever that purpose is whether I’m hurt or healthy," Hobbs said. "When I’m out there on the field I’m not thinking about that, I’m thinking about making a play."
Hobbs was hurt on a kick off return last year.
"As a defensive player you’re always taught, one player comes in, hold him up," He recalled. "It just so happens I was on the other need of that and got tagged, and that was all she wrote for that day."
He said "for a brief second" he couldn't move.
"What seemed like an eternity, maybe five seconds or so," he said. "After the fact you look at it more scary than when it did happen, because it happened so fast."
He said his legs went numb and arms were shaky. That was the end of his season.
Now, however, with last year's starter, Sheldon Brown, traded, the Eagles have tabbed Hobbs as the starter heading into this season. Hobbs said he had not heard that until a reporter asked about it today.
"That’s how much I don’t pay attention to what y’all talk about," he said.
"I always feel like I’m the starter, in my mind all the time," Hobbs added. "I got a personality on me, I’m cocky on the field, I’m humble as can be off the field."
Not starting last year, he said, was "terrible, it was terrible, I hated it."
"I hated being that way, I’ve never been in a situation like that before. . . it’s like you can never get into a full swing, especially if you’re not used to doing that, starting and stopping."
Asked about returning kicks even if he starts this year, Hobbs said he "most definitely" would.
"Sometimes, I get a touchdown thrown on me, I’ll come right back and return a 50 yarder," he said. "I condition myself enough, I train myself hard enough, I feel like I prepare myself enough in the off season to do that."
As for the dangers of returning from a neck injury, Hobbs said medical staff has told him he is at no more risk than any other player after doctors replaced his herniated disc with one from a cadaver, "like Jenga." Mentally, he added, he is not worried about such a potentially devastating injury.
"That might be a little bit of my schizophrenia out there, being a little crazy," he said.
Hobbs said he doesn't know how he got up from the injury last year, just that he did.
"That’s what gives me that stupid confidence. There's a reason why I’m here, there’s a reason why I’m out here there’s a reason why I play this game and this is bigger than me, it’s bigger than me."