Brandon Brooks was listed as “limited” with a knee injury on the Eagles’ first practice report of the season.
The starting right guard apparently didn’t suffer the injury at practice. The Eagles are likely managing his repetitions with the season opener Sunday at the Atlanta Falcons.
Still, the 32-year-old Brooks is coming off an Achilles tendon rupture and missed the early portion of training camp with a hamstring injury. Coach Nick Sirianni said then that the Eagles were moving cautiously with the three-time Pro Bowler who missed all of last season.
Brooks returned before the preseason and played in the first game. But like most of the Eagles’ starters, the snaps he played — just five — were his only live ones this summer. He continued to practice but mostly on a limited basis.
It’s unclear if there was an isolated incident or that overuse contributed to Brooks’ knee injury.
Brooks has had a rough last few years. He tore his right Achilles in the divisional playoff loss to the Saints in January 2019. He made a remarkable return and was ready by next season’s opener. He started and played in all 16 games for a third straight season, although he did have to leave a November game early because of a panic attack.
Brooks had previously missed games with the Eagles and the Houston Texans because of his anxiety, but he has been open about his struggles and willingness to treat his condition.
He returned the following week and finished out the regular season, but injured his shoulder in the finale and missed the wild-card playoff game the Eagles lost. Six months later, while training, he ruptured his other Achilles.
“It’s life, stuff happens,” Brooks said in May. “I’ve seen the highest of highs, and the lowest of lows in my career, and the Achilles was just another thing that I had to overcome.”
Brooks missed all of 2020. He confirmed in the offseason a Sports Illustrated report that the Eagles had made him available to other teams in a trade. It’s likely that his contract — he’s signed through 2024 — and injuries made Brooks a hard sell.
He worked feverishly to return in peak physical condition, but the Eagles felt compelled to slow play his return from an early camp hamstring strain.
Nate Herbig would be Brooks’ likely replacement in Atlanta.
Safety Rodney McLeod, offensive lineman Landon Dickerson, and linebacker Davion Taylor also were listed as limited participants Wednesday. The first two only recently were activated and are unlikely to dress Sunday.
Dickerson, a second-round rookie, began training camp on the non-football injury list due to a knee injury he suffered last season at Alabama. But he and McLeod were both elevated to the active roster last week.
Of the four players listed on the initial report, only Brooks and McLeod are considered returning starters, which indicates the Eagles are relatively healthy to begin the season.
This is a partial byproduct of Sirianni’s practice habits. A majority of the team’s practices this summer were shorter compared to training camp in years past. Sessions averaged around 90 minutes, about 30 minutes shorter than the two-hour standard by other teams across the league. There were a couple of minor bumps and bruises encountered along the way, but the starters and veterans got through unfazed.
As the Eagles returned to practice Wednesday ahead of this weekend’s season opener at Atlanta, Sirianni discussed the balance of prioritizing physical health and excitement for Week 1.
“The more I’m around the game, the more I’ve learned that you do have to be fresh to come in here and have your mind working right,” he said. “I kind of laugh about sleep, but also know it’s important. But we have a job to do, and we have a limited amount of time to get everything done we need to get done. So that’s first.
“But we try to do everything in a way where we’re not wasting time, where we’re very efficient with what we do ... It’s very important for us that we do take our mental health and our physical health into mind to make sure we’re fresh.”