The last news any football team wants to get early in training camp (or at all) is that one of their starting players is going to have to miss some time because of an injury. And already the Philadelphia Eagles have one, despite training camp not officially beginning until Monday morning.
That would be because defensive tackle Mike Patterson will have to miss a couple of months with complications from offseason brain surgery, all the result of a seizure he suffered one hot morning in training camp last August.
Yet, when you think about it, Patterson is the second starter I’d pick to (potentially) miss significant time. Only one other player is less valuable than him as a starter.
It’s pretty simple. You obviously don’t want to have any of the skill position players miss a solid portion of time. Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson are irreplaceable. Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek are pretty important.
You already have Demetress Bell starting all season at left tackle, even though he’s only on the team because All-Pro Jason Peters ruptured his Achilles and will miss the season. Bell is pretty important though, because he was the top free agent tackle on thew market, and if he gets hurt, King Dunlap has to play. Dunlap was a decent backup but don’t forget that he was as good as gone until Peters got hurt.
Evan Mathis is a borderline Pro Bowler, Jason Kelce and Danny Watkins are up-and-coming potential future stars, and Todd Herremans can play any position on the offensive line. You don’t want any of them to get hurt.
Now let’s go to the defensive side of the ball.
Defensive ends Jason Babin and Trent Cole are both Pro Bowlers. Nobody wants a Pro Bowler to miss any time.
The starting linebackers are Mychal Kendricks, DeMeco Ryans, and Brian Rolle/Jamar Chaney. It wouldn’t be an enormous blow if Rolle or Chaney had to miss some time, until you remember that the Eagles don’t have a lot of depth at linebacker. In fact, Chaney could be the backup at all three linebacker positions this season. You need all four healthy, because I’m still not sure I want to see Casey Matthews play more than four or five plays per game next season.
At cornerback, you need Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is healthy. Asomugha will likely rebound from a disappointing season in his first year with a big contract, and DRC is a former Pro Bowler who the Eagles are hoping can rebound into a star player. Brandon Boykin and Joselio Hanson are good backups but you definitely don’t want either one of those players to have to start.
And at safety, you need Nate Allen healthy. He’s likely going to be the breakout star this year. But it’s unclear yet whether Kurt Coleman is going to be starting, and if he would hypothetically suffer an injury, I trust OJ Atogwe to perform at a decent level this season. I also think Jaiquawn Jarrett will develop into a starter one day. When you look at the safeties that way, Coleman is probably the least valuable starter on the team.
Patterson is the second least valuable. He’s a good player, but he’s going to be on the decline soon, possibly this year, and this may be his final season as a starter. In fact, it likely will because first round draft pick Fletcher Cox will earn the starting job, possibly even by midseason. Patterson is just one of the bunch in the rotation.
Take him out, and you give Antonio Dixon and Derek Landri more playing time, and that’s a good thing. Dixon missed most of 2011 with a triceps injury, but he was the team’s best run-stuffer in 2010. And Landri was the breakout star of the defense in 2011, ranking as one of the most valuable defensive tackles in the National Football League, according to Pro Football Focus, despite only playing in about a third of the snaps on defense.
I actually would like to see both play more, or at least as much, as Patterson this season. So if Mike Patterson has to miss a significant amount of time, it’s disappointing, but it’s not the end of the world. In fact, it may not even hurt the defense at all.
This article was written by Bryn Swartz, the top writer for Eagles Central and a featured NFL columnist on Rant Sports. Bryn has written more than 1000 articles in less than two years as a member of Rant Sports. His blog, Eagles Central, was named the 2010 Ballhyped Sports Blog of the Year. To read a portfolio of Bryn’s best work, click here.