The Eagles were actually pretty healthy last season. They were one of the four healthiest teams in football, and ironically, as did the other three, still missed the playoffs.
The roster in 2017 arguably has much more promise and many key players like Carson Wentz (and head coach Doug Pederson) are returning for a second year in south Philly putting expectations a bit higher.
Spring and summer are times for teams to get better, and to stay healthy. Here are five key Eagles’ players for whom a healthy minicamp and training camp are required if the team hopes to contend:
Alshon Jeffery — Games lost to injury: 17
Part of the reason Jeffery is so injury-prone, is because of his tendency to pull muscles. He has missed half a dozen games in his career due to a hamstring or calf issue. This is in addition to tearing his meniscus in 2012 and breaking his hand that same year. He had two healthy seasons in 2013 and 2015, catching more than 85 balls and collecting more than 1,100 yards in each campaign. The Eagles depth at wide receiver and team-friendly one-year contract with the veteran are smart moves as they hope he can stay on the field for more than the 12 games he appeared in last season with Chicago.
Torrey Smith — Games lost to injury: 4
Smith played in 16 games for five straight seasons heading into 2016 with the 49ers before getting a freak concussion and missing four games. So why does he make this list? Well aside from the argument that he’s probably due for a body-injury (which could also be said for nearly every other player on an NFL team), Smith has left a game with a minor injury seven times over his six-year career. These range from another concussion in 2012 with Baltimore and several ankle and hamstring issues. He has played through pain a lot in his career, but is an injury risk to keep an eye on.
Zach Ertz — Games lost to injury: 4
Ertz also hasn’t lost a lot of game time — his broken ribs last season not withstanding — but he has had knee and groin surgery during his football career and due to the physical nature of playing tight end. Ertz needs to stay on the field and remain one of Wentz’ top weapons in order for the Birds’ offense to operate at full strength.
Wendell Smallwood — Games lost to injury: 3
Smallwood was a minor piece for the Eagles last season but due to their running back situation in 2017 will be an important back for a diverse running attack. He’s the only mid-sized, typical running back expected to make the roster (Ryan Mathews is still expected to be cut) and he missed three games last season and was placed on the IR with a knee injury. Philly is optimstic with his return thus far:
“Wendell is coming off his injury last year and he’s looking really good right now in the spring drills,” Pederson said earlier this spring.
Jordan Hicks — Games lost to injury: 8
More and more Hicks has established himself as the on-field leader of the Eagles’ offense at middle linebacker. He suffered a freak torn pectoral injury his rookie year and missed half a season, and struggled with a quad strain last year that didn’t cost him playing time. After an incredibly productive 12 turnovers (seven interceptions, one forced fumble, four fumble recoveries) over 18 career NFL games, Hicks is a dynamic playmaker. The Eagles are thin behind him at linebacker, making his health even more important to success.