Watching Thursday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, one can’t help but wonder if the Philadelphia Eagles’ need to secure an injury insurance policy. A bruised thumb for All Pro running back LeSean McCoy coupled with a hyper-extended knee for wide receiver Jeremy Maclin provided two cringe worthy moments for Birds fans. Thankfully, both injuries do not appear to threaten each player’s season, or significantly impact the high-flying offense. But the questions still linger should any one of these key pieces suffer an injury that keeps them out of game action. Head coach Chip Kelly has continually preached that the team can never have enough depth at any position. But do the Eagles have what they need to survive the season, and ideally, the postseason?
Kelly came in last season instituting a bunch of new changes, but perhaps the most important is the concept of sports science. Sports science coordinator Shaun Huls, a former NAVY Seal, helped to build an environment that minimizes injuries and maximizes performance. Talking to the current roster of Birds, you’ll find they wear GPS and heart rate monitors during practice, all urine output gets measured, and customized smoothies await each player after practice. The concept and implementation even takes into account getting the right amount of sleep. For players like McCoy, this could be the difference between getting stopped at the line, or taking it all the way for a touchdown. For the backups, it’s another opportunity for the team to build healthy depth at every position. Should the unthinkable happen, the “next man up” should be rested, healthy, and ready to contribute.
With the third preseason game completed, the starters will most probably take the fourth game off. It is the traditional time for the backups and other hopefuls to show their stuff for both the Iggles, and other potential teams. The starters get see their first full action against the Jacksonville Jaguars in two weeks. The time between now and then is a period of practice and rest, continuing to nail down timing, execution, and their overall knowledge and command of Kelly’s system. Expectations are higher than ever, given what we saw last Thursday against the Steelers. It appears that the team will start the season complete, save for the suspended tackle Lane Johnson. Behind these starters, the Eagles should have a line of capable backups that can step in and give the team an injury insurance policy and help them repeat as NFC East Champs.