It meant a lot to Brandon Brooks, to be starting for the Eagles at right guard on Sunday, a little less than eight months after tearing his right Achilles tendon in the playoff loss at New Orleans, back on Jan. 13.
“This is what all the work was for. Not just for myself, to run out of the tunnel, but to be out there with those guys, man," Brooks said after the Eagles’ 32-27 season-opening victory. "I’m an only child. Don’t have any brothers. ... Especially in the O-line room, we really are family. I felt like if I could just bust my ass, [then] around June, July, see where I’m at, that was my whole focus.”
The idea since camp opened was that Brooks could be ready for Week 1 if there were no setbacks. There weren’t, and Brooks said he had no problems Sunday. “The calf didn’t get tired. The reconstruction site was fine.”
Brooks said he was supposed to play about 30 snaps but ended up taking part in about 55 before Halapoulivaati Vaitai came in, for the final drive. Vaitai’s two holding penalties might have kept that drive from resulting in a touchdown; the Eagles settled for a 22-yard Jake Elliott field goal.
Brooks said he expects to be able to play the entire game next Sunday night at Atlanta.
With a relatively healthy roster, Eagles coach Doug Pederson had some tough choices to make on his inactives for the opener Sunday against Washington.
He chose to trim at defensive end, making Daeshon Hall and Shareef Miller inactive, along with rookie center Nate Herbig, second-year guard/tackle Matt Pryor, and a trio of injured players -- quarterback Nate Sudfeld (wrist), linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill (knee), and offensive tackle Jordan Mailata (back).
Tight end Alex Ellis, added from the practice squad on Friday, was active and played on special teams; ditto undrafted rookie linebacker T.J. Edwards.
Among the Washington inactives were future Hall of Fame running back Adrian Peterson and former Eagles defensive tackle Treyvon Hester.
Hall was a training camp standout, lavishly lauded by the coaching staff. Miller is a fourth-round rookie from Penn State. Active over them was 2018 fourth-round pick Josh Sweat.
For Peterson, it was the first healthy scratch of a storied 13-year NFL career. Apparently, former Eagles running back Wendell Smallwood’s ability to play special teams got him the nod over A.P.
Also inactive for Washington was dynamic tight end Jordan Reed, who is in the league’s concussion protocol.
The other three of the Eagles’ four remaining 2019 draft picks were active -- Andre Dillard, who served as an extra blocker in short yardage; J.J. Acrcega-Whiteside, who took a bad penalty; and Miles Sanders (11 carries, 25 yards) -- along with Edwards.
Ronald Darby, back from ACL surgery, saw a Case Keenum pass bounce off his chest. ... Darby and Rasul Douglas were the starting outside corners, with Avonte Maddox in the slot. Maddox left for a while with cramps and Sidney Jones came in. Jones seemed to rotate in and out with the other corners. ... Vernon Davis, Washington’s 35-year-old tight end, hurdled Darby, eluded what looked more like a frisking than a tackle attempt from Andrew Sendejo, then ran away from Rodney McLeod for the first touchdown of the day, a 48-yard catch-and-run. ... Nigel Bradham not only was present for this game, he led the Eagles with six unassisted tackles. ... Timmy Jernigan had the Eagles’ only sack. ... The Redskins were given their only sack on a Carson Wentz scramble up the middle on which Wentz was tackled at the line of scrimmage. ... Wentz was successful on three quarterback sneaks, twice on third down and once on fourth. ... Eagles punter Cam Johnston took the second half off, except for holding on kicks.