THE RETURN of Jeremiah Trotter to the Eagles' locker room - an outlandish notion a week ago - seems to be drawing closer to reality this morning.
Trotter worked out for the team again yesterday, he and the Eagles confirmed. Eagles coach Andy Reid offered no comment on his weekly radio show, other than to acknowledge the session. But Trotter told the Daily News it went "two to three times better" than last week's initial workout, in which Reid said Trotter seemed more agile than he was when the Birds released him, 25 months ago.
Trotter, a four-time Pro Bowl linebacker for the Eagles, arrived as a third-round draftee in 1998, then left early in 2002 to sign with the Washington Redskins as a free agent after a nasty salary dispute. He returned in 2004 and helped the team get to the Super Bowl. After being released again in 2007, he signed with Tampa Bay but played in only three games that season and hasn't been on an NFL roster since.
However, Trotter is just 32, and he said last night that arthroscopic knee surgery in 2008 restored lost mobility. "To say my knee is better is an understatement," he said.
Trotter wouldn't say whether he feels he is about to be signed - "I can't say any more [than that the session went well], I'll leave that to 'Big Red,' " he said. That would seem to be a reasonable inference from the tone of his remarks.
Trotter said that yesterday the Eagles wanted to get a feel for his lateral movement. He said he worked against a pass receiver - "one of the rookies" - in coverage. "Obviously, I didn't have any blockers in front of me, but the feedback I got, it went very well," he said.
If the Birds wanted to add Trotter to bolster their depth at linebacker, it wouldn't be that hard to come up with a roster spot. Reid made it clear yesterday that he expects Donovan McNabb to be ready to play again when the team comes back from its bye, at home against Tampa Bay, Oct. 11. Quarterback Jeff Garcia is very likely to be released by the time practice convenes next Monday, with McNabb, Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick all healthy and eligible.
ESPN's Adam Schefter reported that the Eagles gave Trotter a physical yesterday, which would indicate that they are serious about bringing back one of their all-time greats. Agent Jimmy Sexton did not respond to requests for comment.
However, given Trotter's long-standing knee issues, the physical also could raise a red flag - in 2005, when he was briefly a free agent before returning to the fold, Trotter said he warned teams that, "I ain't passed a physical since my rookie season."
Omar Gaither's development was one of the reasons the Eagles were comfortable letting Trotter go in 2007. But Gaither eventually lost the middle linebacking job to Stewart Bradley, who went down with a torn anterior cruciate ligament early last month. Gaither led the Eagles with seven solo tackles in Sunday's 34-14 victory over the Chiefs, a circumstance Gaither called "a coincidence." Last week, Gaither said he had no comment on Trotter's possible return.
At 6-2, 262, Trotter would be the Birds' biggest linebacker; several former teammates said last week they felt Trotter could help them stop the run.