The Eagles made key changes to their medical staff this offseason, after an injury-marred 2018 season, NFL sources said Tuesday.
They parted ways with head physician and internist Stephen Stache and hired Arsh Dhanota to be their chief medical officer. ESPN was first to report the changes.
Stache held the job for just one season, after the Eagles turned over their medical-staff leadership in the aftermath of their Super Bowl victory in February 2018. They let head physician Peter DeLuca and head internist Gary Dorshimer leave and fired head trainer Chris Peduzzi, after each had worked for the organization for about 20 years.
Stache, in essence, replaced Dorshimer, and Christopher Dodson took DeLuca’s place as the Eagles’ top orthopedic doctor.
The team endured a 57-percent increase in players lost to injury in the 2018 regular season. Overall, the Eagles had 28 players miss 221 games with injuries. The players were either on the 53-man roster at some point during the season, on some form of injured reserve, or on the physically unable to perform list. In 2017, 23 players missed 126 games to injury.
Of the 28 players who missed time last season, a significant number experienced abnormal recovery, which raised questions about how the Eagles were providing treatment.
While Eagles executive Howie Roseman cited the disproportionate number of injuries as a key reason the Eagles started last season 6-7 and short of repeating as Super Bowl champions, he defended the medical staff in January.
“We put people in place that we have a lot of confidence in,” Roseman said. "We have to allow them to grow in their jobs and continue to show faith in them, because we do have faith in them.”
But Stache, who also is a consultant with the 76ers, is no longer with the team. A replacement has yet to be hired.
Dhanota was the medical director of nonoperative sports medicine at Penn Medicine. He will be in charge of the entire medical staff and will be the point person for each department, a source said. The Eagles are hoping his presence will help with in-house communication.
Some players lost confidence in last season’s medical staff, team sources said. For instance, several players continued seeing Dorhshimer. While seeking treatment or evaluation outside the team is not unheard of, some players had become frustrated by the Eagles’ staff, sources said.
Carson Wentz’s back injury was the most notable abnormality. The Eagles shut him down in December, after they revealed he had a stress fracture. The quarterback first popped up on the injury report with a “back” injury in October, but he didn’t miss a game, even though several players said Wentz was playing in pain.
The Eagles said they didn’t know when the injury occurred and that it evolved. After the season, Wentz said he was confident in the medical staff.
But there were questions about other prominent players. Running back Darren Sproles and cornerback Sidney Jones missed significant time with recurring hamstring injuries. Wide receiver Mack Hollins said he would play in the season opener after having offseason sports-hernia surgery, only to be placed on injured reserve.
On Tuesday, he practiced in public for the first time since last year.
Jalen Mills’ foot injury in November was deemed minor by coach Doug Pederson, but a few weeks later he was spotted in a walking boot and eventually placed on IR. He has yet to practice this offseason.
Safety Chris Maragos never returned from anterior cruciate ligament and posterior cruciate ligament injuries in October 2017, even though others have needed only a year to return. Maragos was released this offseason and isn’t on an NFL roster.
Running back Jay Ajayi tore the ACL in his left knee in September, but he was was outfitted with a brace in the second half and kept playing. Ajayi is an unsigned free agent.
Defensive tackle Tim Jernigan missed the first 10 games with a back injury, but after playing in one game, he experienced back spasms and missed three more games.