Most media attention was focused on another position Wednesday, but the Eagles got back tight end Zach Ertz, who missed Sunday’s game at Los Angeles with a concussion.
Ertz, whose 57 receptions (for 663 yards) lead the team, cleared the NFL concussion protocol and declared himself “ready to go” as the Eagles began preparations for this Sunday’s visit to the Giants, which can clinch them a first-round playoff bye.
“It was a tough decision last week, not being able to play, but it was the right decision at the time, and I’m excited for this week,” said Ertz, who progressed far enough in the protocol that he was able to take part in individual drills last Thursday and Friday. But what a source called a “dull headache” prevented him from being able to play.
“I was close. If I’d had another day, I’d have probably been good to go, but we decided that it was in the best interest of the team and myself for me to not play,” Ertz said. “Obviously, it killed me not being out there with the guys, but obviously, a big win and I was ecstatic for them.”
Bryan Braman acknowledged he had some moments the past few months when he wondered if his NFL career might be over after six seasons. No one picked up the special teams specialist when his three-year Eagles contract ran out last spring. Finally, just before the season began, he landed a spot with the Saints, but a week later, he was released with an injury settlement, with a bad shoulder.
“You kind of feel homeless when you don’t have a team to play for,” Braman, 30, said Wednesday after his first practice back with the Eagles. He was signed after Carson Wentz officially went on IR.
Braman said he enjoyed the time with his family in Texas. He got calls from Seattle and again with the Saints, “but they ended up not moving forward on it.”
He was very happy, he said, to hear from the Eagles.
“With my experience, being here and knowing the system and stuff, it was real easy for them to have enough confidence to bring me in … and know that I can step right in and help the team,” Braman said. With Chris Long having inherited Braman’s former No. 56, he will wear No. 50 this time.
The Eagles’ generally excellent special teams have been a bit up and down since special teams captain Chris Maragos suffered a season-ending knee injury back on Oct. 12, at Carolina. Last week, the Rams scored a touchdown on a blocked Donnie Jones punt.
“They need help on special teams. That’s really all they expressed,” Braman said. “They know that I’m a pretty high-energy guy. They’re just looking forward to having some help on coverage, and a little bit of energy … Young group. Bringing in a veteran guy.”
Corey Clement, the rookie running back who seemed to cause the blocked punt by choosing to block the outside rusher instead of the one with the most direct route to the punter, said the lapse was a miscommunication.
“It was nobody’s fault. We just have to communicate better on the front line. Stuff happens,” Clement said. “Can’t really dwell on it anymore. Gotta grow on it.”
Wentz has surgery
Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz underwent ACL repair surgery Wednesday in Pittsburgh, a source close to the situation said. His surgeon, chosen by Wentz’s agent group, was Steelers orthopedist James P. Bradley, who also is a professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine.
No further update was available Wednesday. Wentz was placed on injured reserve Tuesday, two days after his left leg buckled while he was straining to reach the end zone on a 3-yard touchdown run, a score that would be negated by penalty, during the third quarter of the Eagles’ victory over the Los Angeles Rams.
Often, NFL orthopedists forecast a nine-to-12-month recovery period for ACL surgeries, though it is not uncommon for players to return more quickly.