If there was one missing piece to the Philadelphia Eagles 2009 season not named Brian Dawkins, it was starting middle linebacker Stewart Bradley.
On August 2, 2009, during the Eagles Annual Flight Night held at the Lincoln Financial , Bradley was participating in a no contact drill for the fans when he tore his ACL which deemed him ineligible for the entire season.
Everyone immediately began to question the depth behind him.
Players like Omar Gaither and Jerimiah “the Ax-man” Trotter both tried filling the void Bradley's injury left. Gaither was doing a fine job holding down the fort until he too went out with a Linfranc Sprain he suffered during the loss to the Oakland Raiders.
Then the Ax-man himself stepped in and attempted to be the force the Eagles needed but failed.
Trotter stated when the Eagles brought him back that his knees felt better than ever and he was running with the best of them, unfortunately he struggled in coverage. He did a fine job, as always, coming in to attack the run but when he was asked to drop back to cover a TE or WR, he was beat more times than not.
Then, right before the end of the trade deadline, the Eagles brought in Will Witherspoon from the St. Louis Rams and the restless minds of the Eagles fans started to settle—and even more so in Witherspoon's first game as an Eagle.
In a matchup against division rival Washington Redskins, Witherspoon forced his way into the hearts of the Ealge faithful with an interception that he took back to the house for six. Unfortunately for him, with the return of Bradley and the expected $5 million he was due to make in 2010 to be a backup are what ultimately got him released from the squad.
He was slipping towards the end of the season though!
Now in the 2010 season, with a healthy Bradley making his return and working the rust off through these mini camps and OTAs, I find myself wondering, hoping he can return to his prior level of play before he became injured.
2009 fifth round draft pick TE Cornelius Ingram, who rehabbed with Bradley this offseason offered this as his statement of Bradleys work ethic:
“Stew is by far the most competitive and hardest worker I’ve ever met. I don’t think I would have been able to do this (rehab) without him. He was just positive every day and he pushed us both to the limit—he’s nonstop. The way he wants it and the way he prepares, I don’t think you could compare him to anyone else.”
That is the scenic route to saying Bradley has worked his butt off to get out on the field and is ready to lay some hits on whatever knucklehead runs his way. He is a monster and he has a full year of pent up hitting to do.
Bradley also has two new faces to become accustomed to in 2009 draft pick Moise Fokou who is expected to man the SAM position and Ernie Sims who was acquired from a 2006 first round draft pick of the Detroit Lions.
Fokou was here last season but Bradley never played in a game situation with him.
Sims is a great talent who couldn’t shine to his fullest in a system he was not fit for. Now that he is in a system that will compliment his strenths, I expect he and Bradley will become a force to rekon with for years to come.
Regardless, the return of the Eagles defensive captian is welcomed with open arms!
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