Part of the cost of winning the Super Bowl has been offseason surgeries, the Eagles have found. Players who made it through the 19-game grind might not have done so without incurring damage.
Brandon Graham, whose strip sack of Tom Brady is on the short list of Super Bowl LII’s biggest plays, has undergone a procedure to speed the healing of a high ankle sprain, Graham acknowledged Wednesday, confirming an ESPN.com report. According to online medical references, such surgery is done if ligament damage keeps the tibia and fibula too far apart. Normally it involves placing screws to draw those bones back into a normal range. The ESPN.com report said Graham, who turned 30 last month, might miss the Eagles’ spring work but should recover in time for training camp.
Graham was injured Christmas night, in the Eagles’ victory over the Raiders, in which he played only 38 snaps, well below his usual tally, leaving the game in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury. Graham, who said X-rays were negative, then sat out the meaningless regular-season finale, but he played 79 percent of the Eagles’ defensive snaps in the playoffs, and recorded the team’s only sack of Brady in the Super Bowl.
Another Super Bowl hero, wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, underwent offseason surgery for a rotator cuff injury he suffered in training camp and played with all season. Derek Barnett, the rookie defensive end who recovered the Brady fumble caused by Graham, has undergone sports hernia surgery. Linebacker Mychal Kendricks had an apparently minor ankle cleanup, and defensive tackle Tim Jernigan endured the most serious offseason surgery, to fix a herniated disk. Jernigan, who might not be ready for the start of the season, apparently was injured working out this offseason.
News that Graham played the postseason with a high ankle sprain — a debilitating injury — comes against the backdrop of the Eagles’ 2010 first-round draft choice seeking a contract extension. He is scheduled to make $7 million this season, the final installment of a four-year, $26 million deal. He recorded a career-high 9 1/2 sacks last season, leading the team.