PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — For the Eagles, the return of two key players meant business as usual.
After a spring full of voluntary workouts, the Eagles gathered in South Philadelphia to begin a mandatory three-day mini-camp. The camp will last through Thursday and will be the final off-season workout for the Eagles. Two key contributors were back on the field as Defensive Lineman Fletcher Cox and Running Back Darren Sproles returned after skipping the team’s voluntary workouts. Both the team and Doug Pederson made it clear there were no hard feelings towards either player for missing the rest of the work in the spring, and the head coach was happy to welcome Cox and Sproles back to the NovaCare Complex.
“They are so excited to be here,” said Pederson. “To be around their teammates, the players, the guys and the coaches. For both of them, they are learning a new system, so it behooves them to really pay attention in the meetings and the walk-throughs. Both of them are excited and ready to go.”
Sproles says he took time away during the voluntary workouts to spend more time with his family. Meanwhile, Cox is looking for a new contract and was believed to have skipped the previous workouts while his agent worked on a new deal. Linebacker Mychal Kendricks understands Cox’s actions were simply part of the business of football.
“He’s going through his situation right now,” Kendricks said. “He’s doing what he feels he needs to do. I’m sure things will work out fine.”
As Cox begins to work with his teammates, the coaches plan to bring the defensive lineman along slowly. Since Cox missed the rest of the off-season workouts, Pederson and his staff do not want to risk an injury to one of the top defensive players in the NFL.
“He’ll be a little limited,” said Pederson. “He’s coming back and we want him to be in the meetings, we want him to go through the walk-throughs and we want him to get as many mental reps this week as he can. I don’t want to put him out there and risk injury. I mean, he’s definitely a big part of this football team and now is not the time to see exactly what he can do, because he’s proven that.”
For now, Cox’s teammates are only worried about football, and Safety Malcolm Jenkins knows Cox will be ready for the regular season.
“You let players take care of what they’ve got to do off the field,” Jenkins said. “Once we’re in the locker room, it’s all about going to work and getting the job done. He’s shown in the past he can do that pretty well.”
Even the head coach wasn’t about to get into contract issues with his star defensive player. Pederson said he will leave the contract discussions to General Manager Howie Roseman. Pederson’s focus with Cox is the business of football on the field.
“We didn’t even get into it,” Pederson said. “I was just happy that he was back. Had a chance to visit with him yesterday and just tell him how excited I was. I understand the voluntary process and the whole off-season, but we’re excited to get him here this week.”