The question of how excited Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Mike Patterson was to return to practice on Monday didn’t even have to be asked. The smile radiating from his face told you the answer.
Though he’s not sure when he’ll return to football shape or if he’ll ultimately be cleared to play this season, Patterson was thrilled to be back at practice with his teammates, saying, “Everything felt good though. I feel real good out there, running around.”
Patterson has not yet been cleared for contact. His progress will be monitored closely by Andy Reid and head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder, but he knows that things will be taken slowly.
“I’m not in the rotation right now, so like I said, they’re just going to take it slow. We’re going to see how things work out. The big man [head coach Andy Reid], he’s just not in a rush to get me out there and risk anything. So, [they’re] just kind of looking at me.
The return to practice sounded like the first day of school for Patterson–a combination of nervous mixed with plenty of excitement.
“It felt real good, man. I feel very excited. I was kind of jittery, I would say, this morning but after getting into the swing of this and meetings and stuff, stuff goes away and [you] kind of take it in and everything’s happy. I’m just happy to be out here.”
Patterson wasn’t the only one excited to be back at practice. His Eagles teammates were thrilled to have him back and to see how far he had come since his surgery. Kurt Coleman’s remarks were particularly heartfelt.
“It’s a blessing. For him to come back from what he did and be able to come back and just be a part of this team, it’s a blessing. He’s an impact player. He’s great for the run stop. He knows how to position himself and cover a lot of gaps down there. It’s a great thing to have him back. We’re excited. It’s going to bring another person added to that D-line.”
Patterson has been featured on the new non-football injury (NFI) list this season. This new feature gives teams an option other than injured reserve. It allows them to evaluate injured players beginning in Week 6 by including them in team practices. Teams around the league then have until Week 9 to decide if the player will be placed on the active roster or to sent to IR.
We’ll see how Patterson progresses but the fact that the man who collapsed on the field in seizures at Lehigh University at Eagles training camp in 2011 and had brain surgery this offseason that required his skull to be cut open, it’s a remarkable feat that Patterson is where he is now. We’ll soon find out whether he is able to ultimately play but either way, Patterson is a winner in this situation.