Philadelphia Eagles’ fans may be biting off their fingernails during every minute that Nnamdi Asomugha spends on the field in the team’s Monday night game against the New England Patriots, but head coach Andy Reid is making the right decision by playing the cornerback.
Asomugha, 29, violently collided with fellow defensive back Nate Allen during training camp four days ago, and USA Today reported that the All-Pro corner “remained facedown and motionless as team trainers came to his aid and several teammates knelt around him.” The article notes that he was taken out of practice and checked for signs of a concussion after the incident.
Reid said the only question about Asomugha the past few days was "just getting the spasm out. He was X-rayed, we knew everything was good ... He felt great. He's a good communicator, so it feels like he's ready to go."
Reid has held his head-coaching post longer than any of his peers, as noted by Fox News. Asomugha is an exceptionally intelligent player, in addition to having nine years of NFL playing experience. If he believes he can play and Reid agrees, then the effects of the recent collision do not pose any additional threat to the cornerback’s health.
Taking him out of the upcoming exhibition game would be taking extra precautions to keep him healthy. In the preseason, this is not an entirely unreasonable strategy to employ.
However, this is not a course the Eagles can afford to take. The team faced high expectations this past season after making several noteworthy signings—highlighted by Asomugha’s five-year, $60 million deal—but they started the year 1-4 and finished with an 8-8 record.
Now the team must have a more successful start to the season in order to live up to its potential. Allowing players to cruise through the preseason would be counterproductive to this goal.
Asomugha could see a substantial amount of playing time this season, as Bowen notes that Reid is planning to play his starters for up to three quarters. The 31-year-old is a veteran and a leader, and by playing, he is sending a message to the rest of the team that every moment in an Eagles’ uniform is meaningful.