PHILADELPHIA – It was just a 17-11 defeat in Week 2 of the 17-game season, a setback to a team with Super Bowl aspirations in the San Francisco 49ers, but a sense of real loss hung heavy in the Eagles’ postgame locker room.
Brandon Graham is done for the season.
The veteran defensive end, in his 12th season, confirmed a report from NFL Media's Ian Rapoport that he "leading from the sidelines this year," in a tweet shortly after being carted into the locker room just before halftime of Sunday's game.
Graham's tweet also said he would be "working to be great in 2022."
Right guard Brandon Brooks also got hurt in the second quarter, but his status is unknown. It was called a chest injury which means it could be a pectoral issue.
Nick Sirianni didn’t know the extent of Brooks’ injury.
“I’m still getting more information on him yet,” said the head coach. “Obviously, he didn’t return so I don’t know everything there. Obviously, I was trying to call the game and manage the game, so I don’t have all the information for you.”
As for Graham, predicting the future beyond this season is dicey.
He will be 34 in 2022 and his contract has voidable years that indicate he is signed through 2026, but, basically, he and the Eagles would have to agree to another contract in order for him to return.
Next year, he has a salary cap hit of $9.413 million.
Graham has played 16 games in four of his last five seasons, with the only game he missed being the meaningless regular-season finale against the Dallas Cowboys before the Eagles began their Super Bowl run.
Sunday was his 50th straight start, which was the second-longest active streak by a defensive end.
“It’s football and things happen, you know?” said defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, who has had a locker next to Graham since arriving in 2012, two years after Graham did in 2010.
“People get hurt, players get hurt, the best get hurt. BG has been my locker mate since I got here and now we still get to laugh and talk about things, it’s just he won’t be on the field on Sunday, it’ll be in the locker room. So, I’m looking forward to that and making sure he stays in a good place.”
The defensive end laid on the turf for several minutes with 1:51 left in the second quarter before being helped to his feet and assisted off with his arms draped across two trainers. He was unable to put any weight on his left leg.
“It’s terrible,” said right tackle Lane Johnson. “He’s probably one of the greatest humans that I’ve had the pleasure of playing with and competing with for eight, going on nine years. He’s really the heartbeat of this team by the way that he conducts himself, the way that he leads, and the way that he plays. I’m not sure what the extent of the injury is, but I’m heartbroken for him.”
Johnson didn’t just lose one friend, but possibly another in Brooks.
“It’s terrible because Brooks is one of my best friends, he’s been the best guard in the league for a long time, and he was doing well so far this season," said Johnson. "Not having him out there is a tremendous loss for us. Having him out there might have been the difference between us winning and losing.”
Graham and Brooks, who arrived as a free agent in 2016 from the Texans, have played a lot of football with players such as Johnson, who was drafted in 2013, and Cox.
“It was a pretty emotional moment for me to see BG limp off the field because I think me and BG – I know me and Brandon have played so much ball together and to see him walk off the field was pretty rough for me,” said Cox, “but we know Brandon, he’s in a good spot right now and we’ll talk once he figures out what’s going on. At the same time, we got his back and we’ll go from there and get ready for the next game.”
Rookie Landon Dickerson took over for Brooks and went the rest of the way at right guard.
The Eagles used rookie Tarron Jackon and veteran Ryan Kerrigan more to compensate for the loss of Graham.
“You guys all know (Graham),” said LB Alex Singleton. “He always has a smile on his face and is always doing the right things. He is always one of those guys that could always overlook somebody.
“I remember when I was still on the practice squad and he was the guy everyday telling me I would play someday. He is that guy for this team and he’ll still be that guy. That’s the best part about him; that we might lose him on the field, but we won’t lose him in the room and in the building.”
Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.