Michael Bennett and Darren Sproles are the only players absent from the Eagles’ organized team activities, which begin Tuesday at the team’s practice facility. Attendance is voluntary during the next three weeks.
“We’ve communicated with them, stayed in touch with them,” coach Doug Pederson said. “I sound like a broken record, but it is a voluntary program. Two guys that I don’t have a lot of concern as far as their ability to help us win games because they’re veteran players and they know how to get themselves ready to go.”
Sproles, 34, has missed spring workouts in the past while staying on the West Coast with his family. He is recovering from a torn ACL this offseason.
Bennett, acquired in a March trade, missed OTAs while a member of the Seattle Seahawks. The 32-year-old, three-time Pro Bowler lives in Hawaii during the offseason. Pederson said Bennett’s absence is not related to his pending legal matter in Texas. Bennett was indicted in March by a Harris County, Texas grand jury for the felony charge of injury of the elderly for an incident at Super Bowl LI.
One big difference between Bennett and Sproles is that Sproles is a returning player who knows the Eagles’ offensive system and his teammates. Bennett is new to the Eagles, so he’s missing the first full-team practice in his new defense.
“I really don’t have any concern going forward with him acclimating himself to the defense,” Pederson said. “You’ve been around long enough to understand [coordinator Jim Schwartz’s] style and what we teach, and it fits his strength. That’s roll off the ball as a D-lineman. It’s just a matter of getting him in here and getting him around his teammates.”
Pederson expects Bennett to participate in OTAs at a later date. The Eagles have 10 scheduled sessions during the next three weeks before a mandatory minicamp to finish the offseason program.
Bennett is not the only defensive end missing from practice. Brandon Graham is in attendance, but he has a cast on his right ankle after recently undergoing surgery. Pederson said that Graham had his ankle “cleaned out” and that the team “can’t do much with him right now.”