Fletcher Cox said Tuesday that his goal is to be ready for training camp after undergoing “a procedure” for the foot injury he suffered in the Eagles’ Jan. 13 playoff loss at New Orleans.
Cox did not elaborate on the nature of the injury. He missed some snaps but finished the playoff game, saying afterward that “they’d probably have to cut one of my limbs off for me to not be out there. If I’m able to go, then I’ll be out there, and these guys know that.”
Cox left New Orleans wearing a walking boot and was wearing the boot in early March, when an ESPN.com report referenced the surgery. He was out of the boot and walking normally Tuesday, the second day of the Eagles’ offseason conditioning program.
“Everything is going good. … I’m just taking it day-by-day,” Cox said. “The goal is to be ready for training camp. … Right now, I’m just focused on rehab, doing whatever I need to do to get back on the field.”
Cox, 28, is coming off his most productive season, in which he notched a career-best 10.5 sacks and made first-team All-Pro for the first time, after three second-team selections.
That was despite not enjoying as strong a presence next to him at the other defensive tackle spot. Injury limited Tim Jernigan to three games, and Beau Allen left in free agency last offseason for Tampa Bay. Replacements Haloti Ngata, Treyvon Hester, and Bruce Hector were easier for opponents to handle than Jernigan and Allen were during the Eagles’ Super Bowl season in 2017.
This spring, Eagles moved to help Cox by signing Jacksonville free-agent defensive tackle Malik Jackson to a three-year, $30-million deal. They also might address the position in next week’s draft, which is said to offer exceptional defensive-line depth.
Cox said he spoke with Jackson “right after he signed” and again Tuesday morning, not so much about football, “because he just got here.”
Cox said he and Jackson are “going to spend some time together. It’s nothing that can happen overnight. It’s just things have gotta build during the season. Him being next to me, me learning how he plays, him learning how I play certain things, how he rushes and how I rush, is going to take some time.
"Some of those things we can pick up on in training camp, but most of those things, the important things, I’d say will happen actually the first, second, third game of the season, where we’re actually getting those game reps.”
The last few years, the Eagles have put the likes of Michael Bennett or Brandon Graham next to Cox on third and long, but Jackson, listed at 6-foot-5 and 290 pounds, probably won’t come off the field in favor of a defensive end.
“You have a bigger body there, a guy that’s playing every down … more presence,” Cox said. “He’s a Pro Bowler. People are gonna respect him also. … Now, you just can’t slide protection to one person.”
This offseason, the Eagles dismissed defensive-line coach Chris Wilson, Cox’s position coach at Mississippi State, and replaced him with his Eagles assistant, Phillip Daniels, a 15-year NFL playing veteran. Cox indicated the change was not a problem for him.
“I had a really good relationship with Coach Wilson. … That’s just part of [head coach Doug Pederson’s] decision, and I’ve got nothing to do with that,” Cox said. “With Coach Phil Daniels, being here with him, I think it’s going to be good for the room also, because not a lot will change. It’s not like the whole defense will change. … I’m excited about Phil, and I think everybody in the room is excited about him.”