Not that the Eagles are worried about him or anything, but Sam Bradford was taken down the hallway to the X-ray room immediately after the end of Monday's loss for a quick look-see at an ankle sprain that Bradford knew wasn't serious.
"I knew everything was fine. They just wanted to check it out," Bradford said Wednesday. "It didn't hurt. It wasn't sore."
Bradford said you'd have to ask the doctor why the X-ray was necessary, but, really, you don't. He is Sam Bradford, the quarterback upon whom everything hinges during this season of accepted risk, and his history suggests caution at every turn. Bradford missed six games and was bothered all season by a high ankle sprain in 2011, so if he turns his ankle a little, the Eagles are going to pay attention.
The quarterback understands and accepts it. Staying healthy is the only way to prove he can stay healthy and that is a week-to-week proposition. This week, as the Eagles turn around from the Monday night loss in Atlanta and quickly prepare for the Cowboys, Bradford is spending more time in the training room, more time in the whirlpool. He's practicing with his right ankle heavily taped.
For the first time in 23 months, Bradford woke on Tuesday with that familiar feeling of having played in a live game the day before, a game that included eight pretty good hits on the quarterback.
"It felt about as enjoyable as I remember it being," Bradford said. "I'll probably spend some extra time in the tub and extra time getting treatment in order to make sure to get the body back where it needs to be for Sunday."
His teammates watched him closely on Monday, although not because of his injury history. It was their first game with him as the quarterback and players like to see how their leader reacts under fire. In the first half, as almost nothing went right, the way Bradford handled it was almost the only thing they liked.
"He was calm and collected like you'd expect him to be," tight end Zach Ertz said. "Seeing a blitz isn't going to faze him. He's not going to say, 'Dang, what is everyone doing?' and curse everyone out."
At halftime, Bradford addressed the offense. It wasn't a rah-rah or locker-kicking performance. He told the Eagles to stay together and start playing the way they could. Everybody pick it up, just a little, including him.
"I think we shot ourselves in the foot in the first half. We missed some opportunities, had some penalties, some negative plays. It just felt like we were playing behind the whole first half," Bradford said. "In the second half, we got things rolling. We did kind of what we wanted to do, pushed the tempo, played fast. We put a lot of pressure on them."
Bradford could have pointed fingers after that first half rather than rallied the troops. He was only 15 for 27 himself, and some of his throws had been errant, but he also had receivers botch at least three routes and the offensive line wasn't able to pry open a hole in the middle of the field for the running game.
"He was a presence on the sideline and very optimistic the whole game," center Jason Kelce said. "We all understood that it wasn't so much what they were doing and more about us really hurting ourselves. We knew the penalties were killing us, the poor technique, the tripping, and a lot of sloppy play. We had the feeling as an offense that it was only a matter of time before things got going."
It got going quickly after Bradford's halftime talk and he was a remarkable 21 of 25 in the second half. Even that would have been better had Jordan Matthews been able to pull in the catchable ball that ended things. Stats aside, everything would have been better had they pulled out the win, but the Eagles settled for taking whatever comfort they could find in the comeback effort.
"I thought it was a great response by our guys," Bradford said. "It would have been easy to come out and do the same things in the second half, just put our heads down. But we came out and fought and played the way we're capable of. Hopefully, we'll start that way this week."
That would be a good idea. Trailing by 17 at the half isn't a formula for success, no matter who is the quarterback. The Eagles like the one they have, though. He got them going when they needed it and that's what they want to remember from that game.
As for Bradford, it's asking a lot, but if all the games are like that second half, it will be a very good year. And if all the X-rays are precautionary, it will be an even better one. That might be asking a lot, too.