Under normal circumstances, Philadelphia Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham might have called it a season on Christmas night, at the moment he suffered his high ankle sprain against the Oakland Raiders. But these were no normal circumstances.
The Eagles not only made the playoffs for the first time in four years, but were the No. 1 seed in the NFC and had plans on extending their run into February. Graham, the team’s sack leader, was a most critical component. So he went to visit a specialist in North Carolina, and once it was was determined that he had no ligament damage, he set his sights on the postseason. He played in all three of Philadelphia’s playoff games, and came up with the game-sealing strip-sack of Tom Brady late in Super Bowl LII to secure the franchise’s first-ever Lombardi Trophy. One of the most important plays in team history, turns out, was executed on one good leg.
The ankle did not heal as Graham had hoped on its own, so on May 1, Graham underwent surgery to help speed up the process, according to sources. He is currently in a protective boot and will be sidelined for some of the Eagles’ spring/summer work. The goal is to be ready for training camp.
Graham is not the only Eagles player to have offseason surgery. Here are the ones who have come to light so far:
WR Alshon Jeffery: He played with a torn rotator cuff all year and finally had surgery to repair it in February once the Super Bowl run was complete. Recovery time is expected to be at least six months. The hope is that he’ll be ready Week 1.
DT Tim Jernigan: Had surgery on a herniated disc in his back in late April and is expected to be out four months, league sources told ESPN. The injury apparently occurred during an offseason workout in March.
DE Derek Barnett: The defensive line in particular has been hit rather hard over the past few months. Barnett underwent sports hernia surgery shortly after the season, according to the Philly Voice. The recovery time was expected to be six weeks.
LB Mychal Kendricks: Had surgery on his ankle in March. It was described as a clean-up that was expected to sideline him for a few weeks.
And then there are the notable Eagles players who went under the knife during the season:
LT Jason Peters: Had the ACL and MCL in his right knee repaired in October. Based off the normal nine- to 12-month recovery time for such injuries, he could be back for training camp.
LB Jordan Hicks: Ruptured his Achilles in October. He recently said that he is ahead of schedule in his rehab, but did not offer a target return date.
S Chris Maragos: Tore his PCL in October. Training camp could be realistic for him.
Put it all together, and that’s 11 Eagles players who have had surgery in recent months, including six who have had procedures since the season ended. While it’s difficult to quantify the direct impact of the extended season on those who played throughout, it can at least be said that the process of recovery was delayed for some.
Given the end result, the Eagles will gladly deal with the residual effects from the 2017 season. But there’s no question that the health of this rather large group, which includes a number of stars, will be a central storyline as Philly begins its quest for a repeat.