Just a few days into their 2012 training camp, the Philadelphia Eagles have already been struck hard by the injury bug. Most of the injured players, with the exception of Riley Cooper and Mike Patterson, are not expected to miss any real playing time when the regular season comes around. As of right now, the entire projected starting defensive line is on the shelf: Mike Patterson has been ruled out of all of camp and possibly more because his incision from brain surgery hasn’t healed properly, Jason Babin is out 2 weeks with a strained calf, Trent Cole shouldn’t miss more than a week with a strained AC joint and Cullen Jenkins has a hamstring injury.
Nobody ever wants to see a player injured in any capacity, but the good news is twofold for the Eagles: none of the injuries to the defensive line appear to be particularly serious, and it is giving the younger players on the line an opportunity to get more reps with the first team defense. That experience could very well prove invaluable when the games start to actually matter. In addition, the Eagles are deep at the defensive line position, so they have not had to bring in any additional bodies to training camp. Despite the injuries, the Eagles are still left with 4 healthy defensive ends in Brandon Graham, Darryl Tapp, Phillip Hunt and Vinny Curry. Graham and Tapp have been taking first team snaps. At the tackle spot, the eagles still have rookie Fletcher Cox, Derek Landri, Antonio Dixon, Cedric Thornton, Frank Trotter and Ollie Ogbu.
One of the players who has benefited the most from the injuries is first round draft pick Fletcher Cox. When he entered camp, Cox was in competition for the starting job, and now that he is getting the chance to take significantly more first team reps, his ability to learn and adjust to the NFL game is only going to be expedited. Cox seems to have won over his teammates, at least early in camp. When asked about the rookie out of Mississippi State, Cullen Jenkins said: “He has shown a lot of potential. He can be a heck of a player.” The coaches have also indicated that he has responded well to coaching from both his teammates and coaching staff. If Cox continues to work and takes the advice of the veterans and coaching staff around him, there’s a good chance he will turn that potential into production on the field.