Sidney Jones is not a patient man. He'll need to learn to become one during the next few months while the Eagles practice without their second-round pick, who is recovering from a torn left Achilles tendon that could sideline him for part - or maybe all - of the 2017 season.
Jones visited Philadelphia for the first time this weekend to attend the Eagles' rookie minicamp. He met with the team doctors, signed his first contract, watched practice and attended meetings.
"I'm feeling good," Jones said. "Everything looks good to [the medical staff]. We're just going to follow the protocol and schedule. No rush to get me back. We're just going to go whenever I'm ready and whenever anyone else feels ready."
Jones questioned the credibility of a report that would he return in October and emphasized that the staff is erring on the side of caution. They are not giving a return date because they want to see when he gets healthy instead of projecting when the recovery will be complete.
"Nobody wants to rush me back and see a re-injury occur from this," Jones said. "That will be a bad situation if that happens. We're going to stick to the safe side and take it slowly."
First comes small steps. He's rehabbing and lifting weights, focusing on exercises to regain his mobility. Those include toe curls and toe crunches. His walking boot comes off May 21st, which is the next benchmark in his recovery. He expects the rehab to "ramp up" at that point. After this weekend's camp, Jones will rehab at the University of Washington until he can return to the Eagles on June 10.
He knows he must be cognizant of not unnecessarily accelerating his training when the boot comes off. The message of patience from the Eagles was reiterated by coach Doug Pederson on Friday, and the team has been careful in tempering expectations of a 2017 return.
And though he cannot practice with his teammates, Jones said he can still find ways to improve. He watched practice and started learning the defense. He's in the film room and the weight room, and he's focusing on his nutrition. But those avenues offer little consolation for a player who has never experienced an injury like this.
"It's very testing," Jones said. "Especially today in the defensive meeting rooms after practice, just watching the film, it was kind of burning me inside to not be able to play, and everybody's being coached up, and I'm not being coached up. Just got to watch the other guys do their stuff. It's hard, but it's a process, and you learn patience going through this."
Patience will help with the business of football, too. The four-year contract he signed on Thursday pales compared to what he would have signed had he been a first-round pick as expected before the injury. But he plans on being fortunate enough to sign a second contract, and he's still in the NFL. He's finally experiencing the NFL life this weekend.
"I'm in the league," Jones said, "and that's all I can be grateful for."
When asked about defensive end Brandon Graham, Pederson said that Graham has previously been to workouts. The offseason work is "voluntary," and "a lot of this is out of my hands," he said. Graham wants to renegotiate his contract, sources told the Inquirer. Pederson did not say whether Graham would attend the organized team activities in two weeks.
"He and I have had conversations as I do with a lot of the players," Pederson said. "Again, the expectation is, would I like him here? Yeah. But voluntary, I got it. . . . But at the same time, veteran player, understands his role, understands his assignment, and expect big things from him this season."