When Colt Anderson lines up for an Eagles punt or kickoff, he's often the smallest guy on the field, at a generously listed 5-10, 194.
But Anderson was huge Sunday in comparison to the 180 or so youngsters ages 6-14 clustered around him in the Birds' indoor practice facility for the team's sixth annual Kids Club Junior Combine.
"It's just fun to get out here and be involved in something like this," Anderson, 26, said. "They asked typical kids' questions -- 'Who's your best friend?' 'How many interceptions did you have?' 'What planet are you from?'"
They didn't ask why he was wearing sandals and manning a drill station that required little movement. Anderson, the Birds' special teams ace, is four months into his recovery from a torn ACL. He hopes to be ready for the start of the 2012 season, but that is still a long way off.
"I'm feeling really good," said Anderson, who said he can run on his own now. "It's a process. We have certain timelines we want to hit. So far, I'm hitting all the targets and right on track."
Anderson had never experienced a major injury before getting hit wrong by a blocker while covering a Chas Henry punt during the Eagles' loss at Seattle Dec. 1. The worst part was, since Anderson is from Montana, and Seattle is the closest NFL city, Anderson said he had "a couple hundred" friends and family at the game, watching when his season abruptly ended.
"It was tough to go out like I did and get injured in the second quarter, suffer such a significant injury," said Anderson, who walked off the field that night, rather than ride the cart. In the postgame visitors' locker room, he said, he met with his parents, his fiance, sister and his two brothers, a very different reunion than he had imagined.
"That was the toughest thing, seeing them," Anderson recalled. "I came out, I wasn't really crying, but they were, and it's like a domino effect -- everybody starts crying."
Anderson spent a year-and-a-half on the Vikings' practice squad before getting his shot with the Eagles. He was having an extraordinary season for special teams coordinator Bobby April, who called Anderson "a really special guy" who was "playing at a Pro Bowl level, for sure" before the injury. Despite missing the final four games, Anderson finished second on the Eagles in special teams production points and tackles. Teammates voted him the Eagles' special teams MVP.
An ACL is an especially tough injury for a guy who makes his living hurling himself at other players at full speed. Players often say it takes a full year to get every bit of stability and explosiveness back after a torn ACL, even if you can play after eight or nine months. There is no such thing as working yourself back up to full speed on special teams; you either can get there, or you can't.
"You can't worry about stuff like that," Anderson said. "When I'm ready to roll I'm going to be out there and I'm going to be 100 percent when I get out on the field, no matter what."