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How the Eagles finally figured out how to stay healthy


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How the Eagles finally figured out how to stay healthy


When Rodney McLeod first heard Nick Sirianni’s plan to shorten practices, hold more frequent walkthroughs and do everything he could to keep players off their feet, he was skeptical.

"I think initially a few of us were worried,” McLeod said.

His concern was that walkthroughs don’t have the intensity of full practices and that the Eagles’ young players wouldn’t take them seriously enough.

"Just the focus level (was a concern),” he said. "You go through walkthroughs from week to week and sometimes it can just become redundant or you have a walkthrough for 20 minutes, and you have a great walkthrough for 15 minutes and then somehow the focus level slips for the last five and those are the things you worry about, especially when you have a younger group.”

McLeod’s concerns were quickly dispelled.

Sirianni’s plan to reduce injuries and keep his team fresh by holding short training camp practices and replacing Wednesday practices with walkthroughs paid off in an unusually healthy Eagles team 19 weeks into the season.

"Man, this team has been true professionals,” McLeod said. "We understand when it’s time to work it’s time to work and that’s a credit to every man on this team and it’s paid dividends for us. … 

"We aren’t a fairly old team, we’re a young team, but just making sure during those walkthroughs guys are taking it seriously and locked in for that period of time, but it’s paid off for us and we have a very mature group of guys who understand the task at hand and are true professionals. So it’s a credit to the players on this team for being able to have a schedule like this and still be able to execute on Sundays and win.”

Being healthy, fresh, sharp and rested may not be enough for the Eagles to topple the Bucs in their wild-card matchup Sunday in Tampa, but it won’t hurt.

"Absolutely,” Fletcher Cox said. "I’m not as banged up this year as I was last year or late in the season normally. It’s helped me, the way they’ve managed me this year as far as practice and game reps and physically just being (not) on my feet and taking hits. You’ve got to give a shout to all the coaches and training staff, just knowing if we’re going to make a run our best guys need to be healthy.”

It seemed crazy when the Eagles were holding 90-minute training camp practices, it seemed crazy when Wednesday practices turned into half-speed walkthroughs, it seemed crazy when Sirianni rested his older veterans once a week.

But here we are. The only projected opening-day starters now on Injured Reserve are guards Brandon Brooks and Isaac Seumalo and defensive end Brandon Graham.

The Eagles have six other starters in their 30s – Cox, McLeod, Jason Kelce, Darius Slay, Anthony Harris and Lane Johnson. Of that group, Cox, Kelce, Johnson and Slay didn’t miss any games because of injury, McLeod didn’t miss any games with an injury suffered this year and Harris missed two games in the middle of the season.

"We felt like we have been healthy,” Sirianni said "We've been fresh going into games, our legs have been there.”

Considering how decimated the Eagles were the last few years, they had to try something different.

"It’s a help,” McLeod said. "Especially as you get to this point, the latter part of the season. Just a couple extra periods off really saves your legs on Sunday.” 

Harris said there’s been terrific communication between the coaches, the strength and conditioning staff and the players to figure out what’s best week-by-week.

"The coaching staff, weight staff, trainers and everybody, they’ve been doing a great job of working together and communicating with the players,” he said. "The team has been doing a good job of communicating and taking care of us.”


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I mean I think we need a greater sample size before we declare this a success. It is encouraging that less players got injured this year and yes I'm sure easier and shorter practices etc helped. But this team has had too many injury hit seasons for me to fully trust that's behind us. We caught a break for a change and it was appreciated. 

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And they got a lot younger - and hopefully will continue to do so.  With the new 17 game season and expanded playoff format, being young is an asset as younger players may be more healthy and energetic late in the season.

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Maybe this has something to do with looking flat and unprepared in the first halves of games this year?

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