Cole, Jenkins Join Injured; DL Depth Tested
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Cole, Jenkins Join Injured; DL Depth Tested
BETHLEHEM -- Eagles coach Andy Reid said defensive end Trent Cole has developed an AC joint (shoulder) problem that could keep him out of practice "anywhere from a day to a week." This was in the morning. By Wednesday afternoon, one of the players filling in at d-end, starting defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, had left practice with what the Eagles said was a hamstring injury that was to be MRI'd Wednesday night. If a hamstring injury requires an MRI, it's usually more than a day-or-two-type thing.
Cole and fellow starting DE Jason Babin (calf) are unlikely to miss regular season time with their injuries. Their absence right now should give an extended look to players such as Brandon Graham, Phillip Hunt, Darryl Tapp and rookie Vinny Curry. (Yet another DE, Monte Tyalor, left Wednesday's afternoon workout with a concussion, the Eagles said.)
Babin left the Lehigh fieldhouse Wednesday with a large bag of ice strapped to his right leg. He told reporters he has a definite idea who might emerge from the pack in his absence. He wouldn't provide a name, but said he figures everyone will be able to figure it out by the end of the week. (The guess here is Graham, who has been relentless, on a quest to redeem his first-round promise, as he starts his third season since the Eagles traded up to draft him 15th overall.)
Babin said he's never had a calf strain, but is taking it as part of the game. He is expected to miss 2 to 3 weeks.
"I knew what it was when it happened," said Babin, 32, who pulled up during a 1-on-1 line drill Saturday afternoon. Reid later expressed relief that there was no Achilles' involvement, but Babin said he never worried about that.
"The biggest thing for me I kind of feel a little upset about -- I know some of the young guys could benefit from me being out there, which is ultimately going to benefit the team," Babin said. "It's upsetting, but I'm going to get out there as fast as I can."
Cole waved off reporters as he walked to the parking lot.
With Cole and Babin both shut down, along with Jenkins, who opened Wednesday's practice as a starting DE, there is an excellent chance Graham will start the first preseason game, Aug. 9 at the Linc against the Steelers. Graham confirmed that he is scheduled to take first-team reps this afternoon.
"I feel like I'm in great shape," said Graham, who has acknowledged conditioning was an issue last season, as he labored to return from ACL and microfracture surgery. "That's half the battle. You know, my knee, it was holding up last year, but really, it was kind of stopping me from being able to go all out, because it was still mental for me. Now? I'm just going to go out there and play. I'm going to be out there diving on the piles -- you're going to see a different guy."
Punter Mat McBriar worked out his visa issue and practiced for the first time with the Eagles Wednesday afternoon.
McBriar, 33, is Australian. He said after the Eagles agreed to "sponsor" him, signing him as a free agent, he had to leave the country shortly, then return. McBriar chose to make a visit to Ottawa. Saw the Rideau Canal. Then came back to Lehigh.
McBriar is rooming with his competition, incumbent punter Chas Henry. He was asked his early impressions of special teams coordinator Bobby April.
"He's always talking," McBriar said, which pretty much nails it. "He seems very positive ... I think the guys play very hard for him."
McBriar, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, was released by the Cowboys after struggling from a nerve problem in his plant leg that turned out to be a cyst pressing on the peroneal nerve. He underwent surgery in February and has waited as the nerve slowly gets back to normal. He has a brace that he wore while punting with the problem last season. He said he probably doesn't need the brace now, but will wear it in the early going just for added confidence.
McBriar, wearing jersey No. 1, seemed to be punting well Wednesday afternoon.
Tight end Brent Celek, who suffered a knee sprain the first day of full-squad workouts last week, was running Wednesday morning on a field adjacent to the walkthrough, supervised by an athletic trainer. Andy Reid said Celek can do everything but cut. Reid seemed to think Celek might return within a few days.
"It's only been a week, but it feels like three months," Celek told reporters. "I just have to take my time. I can't get discouraged about it [I need to] keep my head up and get ready for this preseason."