Less than 8 months after Achilles tear, Brandon Brooks on track to start Sunday
Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson said it in the spring, and Brandon Brooks made it happen.
Johnson said months ago that he believed Brooks would be ready to play in the season opener despite tearing his Achilles early in the Eagles’ playoff game at New Orleans on Jan. 13.
PHOTO: Zach Brown (52), Rasul Douglas (32), Nigel Bradham (53) and Derek Barnett (far right) warm-up before Friday's indoor practice.
On Friday, Brooks appeared to be on track to start at his usual right guard spot after being listed as a full-go in practice.
If Brooks does start, it would be a remarkable accomplishment to return so quickly because, first, it will be just short of eight months since the Achilles blew, and, second, he is listed at 6-5, 335 pounds.
VIDEO: Eagles practiced inside their bubble due to rain on Friday
“I’m just fortunate enough to play in the NFL where I can get the best car as far as doctors and rehab and stuff,” said Brooks. “I felt like, especially last year, the training staff, kind of got a bad shake with different setbacks and different stuff that they were going through but they did a great job so I appreciate it.”
Halapoulivaati Vaitai had been practicing at right guard throughout the offseason and training camp in case Brooks wasn’t ready. Now, he becomes a valuable backup not only at tackle but guard as well.
The Brooks news was only one piece of good news that came out of Friday.
Everyone except for three players practiced in full. The three who didn’t, and were ruled out for Sunday’s opener against the Washington Redskins, were quarterback Nate Sudfeld (wrist), linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill (knee), and offensive tackle Jordan Mailata (back).
There wasn’t anybody listed as questionable.
So that means players who spent most of their summer rehabbing will take up their spots in the starting lineup. That would be defensive end Derek Barnett, defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, linebacker Nigel Bradham, and cornerback Ronald Darby.
Head coach Doug Pederson was asked on Friday if he likes where his defense stands even though they have not yet played as a full unit together in the preseason or in practice.
“You know, from what I've seen in practice, these guys, first of all, they're ready to go,” said Pederson. (Defensive Coordinator) Jim (Schwartz) has them well-prepared. I see them flying around in practice. I mean, these guys, their communication level is high, which is what they got to have.
“Even with the additions of some of the new players with Malik (Jackson) and Andrew Sendejo and guys like that who are new to the scheme, have really settled into their roles and what we expect of them. And now just getting the guys back, it's kind of a plug and play.
“Again, it goes back to just even watching the game (Thursday) night (between the Packer and Bears), both defenses just flying off the ball. That's what we ask our guys to do, come off the ball and make plays when called upon. I think our defense is in a good spot right now.”
NOTE: The Eagles promoted tight end Alex Ellis from the practice squad. He takes the roster spot of cornerback Cre’Von LeBlanc, who was placed in Injured Reserve earlier in the week. Ellis will likely play on special teams, though it remains to be seen if he would be the third tight in short-yardage situations. Earlier in the week, Pederson said that responsibility could fall to rookie Andre Dillard as a way to get the first-round draft pick on the field.