It was nothing but high expectations for Philadelphia Eagles starting middle linebacker Stewart Bradley, who was coming off a very promising 2008 campaign, and it looked as if 2009 would be no different.
That was until one dreadful August night at the Eagles' annual Flight Night.
It was that evening that Bradley endured an injury (ACL) that would deem him ineligible for the entire 2009 season.
For the Philadelphia Eagles, the 2009 season was once again injury-plagued on both sides of the ball, but the position that took the biggest hit was the middle linebacker position.
The Eagles faced hardships as they tried to find an answer to Bradley's unexpected debacle.
They had players like Omar Gaither, Jeremiah Trotter, and Joe Mays all try to fill the void left by Bradley's injury, but none of them was close to being a desired patch.
Gaither was doing fine, but he too was injured and taken out for the season. Trotter is a phenomenal downhill player, but he continued to struggle in coverage. The same is true for Mays, a great run-stuffer who also has real trouble covering players.
Then right before the end of the trade deadline, the Eagles acquired LB Will Witherspoon from the St. Louis Rams in exchange for WR Brandon Gibson and a fifth round pick.
Witherspoon stepped right in, and in his very first game as an Eagle, notched an INT that he returned for six against the division rival Washington Redskins.
Unfortunately for Witherspoon, his lack of production to close out the season, and the fact that he was due to make over $5 million in 2010 to be a backup, are what ultimately got him cut from the team.
He is a solid player on defense, and the Titans should be happy they landed him!
Going back to Bradley, it is important for him to return to his level of play before his injury. He is the leader on defense and the signal caller on the field—defensive coordinator Sean McDermott's right-hand man.
Is he recovered enough to return his tenacious attacking mentality to the Eagles' defense?
Can the Eagles expect him to contribute more 150-plus tackle seasons like the one he had in his first year as a starter, back in 2008?
According to Bradley, the answer is yes, and doctors have cleared him to begin practicing as early as this week.
In a recent discussion with Eagles' web coordinator Dave Spadaro, Bradley was asked about his progress and he had this to say:
"I'm coming along great, and in fact I was just cleared by the doctors to practice this weekend. I am really excited to get back on the field. I don't think I will have any limitations."
Has Stewart missed being on the field, making those hard-nosed tackles we all missed in 2009? Absolutely, as he continued with his statement, saying:
"I've missed the game, the competition, I can't wait to get it started."
It's all very promising and extremely exciting news, but please believe that Andy Reid and Sean McDermott will take every precaution working him back into the defense.
They don't need him going out again!