Asked if Kamu Grugier-Hill had been playing through a back injury that resulted in the Eagles placing the linebacker on season-ending injured reserve Wednesday, coach Doug Pederson said he didn’t know. But not long after Pederson’s news conference, Grugier-Hill’s agent, Steve Caric, released a statement saying that his client had indeed been playing through the injury for most of the season.
“Kamu has been playing though a significant pain for the majority of the 2019,” Caric said. "This pain has forced him to take weekly pregame painkilling shots and IV drips. This past week the pain became unbearable and it was determined he required a minor and minimally invasive back procedure to relieve the pain.
“He is expected to be fully recovered in 3-4 weeks. Kamu is the ultimate team player who has given everything he has to this organization the past four years.”
The Eagles first released a statement Wednesday morning saying that Grugier-Hill “reported back discomfort to team physicians” after Sunday’s game at the Redskins.
“On Monday morning, an MRI confirmed a lower lumbar disc herniation,” the statement read. “After consulting with the team’s spine surgeon, the decision was made to proceed with surgery.”
Grugier-Hill wasn’t immediately available for comment. The Eagles’ open locker-room period isn’t until after practice Wednesday afternoon. It’s unclear if the Eagles were aware of his injury before Monday. Many players soldier through various injuries. Grugier-Hill had never been listed on the official injury report this season with a back injury.
He had been receiving treatment throughout the season, but for a core muscle injury, a source said.
Krugier-Hill missed the first three games of this season with an MCL knee sprain and the New York Giants game on Dec. 9 with a concussion. He suffered the head injury on the first play of the Dolphins game a week earlier, but he returned and finished.
Grugier-Hill popped up on the injury report with a concussion the following week, however. He later told reporters that he lied to the Eagles’ medical staff and said that he had injured his shoulder rather than his head.
Pederson said Friday that he was disappointed with Grugier-Hill. Asked if there would be discipline, the coach said that he was still in the evaluation phase and had yet to consult with general manager Howie Roseman.
Grugier-Hill played only five defensive snaps in Sunday’s game. He had been averaging 33. He also played only nine snaps on special teams. He had been averaging 13 special-teams snaps.
Asked if Grugier-Hill’s snaps reduction was punishment, Pederson said Monday that it wasn’t and that rookie T.J. Edwards had warranted more playing time. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said Tuesday that Redskins personnel factored into the change.
Grugier-Hill never left the game because of injury.
He "felt discomfort after the game, reported it, got an MRI on Monday, and it revealed that he needs to be shut down for a little while,” Pederson said Wednesday.
Pederson was asked if Grugier-Hill’s decision to report the back injury had anything to do with his reduction in playing time.
“That’s speculation,” Pederson said. “I’m not going to answer that. That’s speculation. I don’t get into that type of hypothetical.”
Grugier-Hill has been the Eagles’ special-teams captain, as voted on by teammates, the last two seasons. He was claimed off waivers from the Patriots before the 2016 season. Grugier-Hill originally was strictly a special-teams contributor, but his role increased to include time on defense.
He was having a strong training camp until the knee injury. When he returned, he played part-time in base and nickel personnel. Grugier-Hill finished the season with 23 tackles and one fumble recovery.
“It’s huge,” Pederson said of losing Grugier-Hill. “He’s been a core [special] team player for us early in his career, obviously here doing the dual role and playing linebacker for us, too. Definitely, somebody we’re going to miss.”
Grugier-Hill is slated to become an unrestricted free agent this offseason. The apparent divide between the Eagles and the agent could make it unlikely he returns. Edwards, an undrafted rookie, will likely step into his role on defense, alongside Nigel Bradham and Nate Gerry.
Grugier-Hill, 25, becomes the 10th Eagle to be placed on IR this season. Pederson was asked why the Eagles have seemingly been snakebitten by injuries over the last two seasons.
“You got to look at a lot of things,” Pederson said. He added: “These types of things are going to happen. The amount of contact, and the amount of collisions, and things that go on -- not only during the week but during the course of a game -- are unbelievable.
“I know you [reporters] sit up there and eat your hot dogs and diet Cokes. If you were on the field listening to the collisions and things that these guys go through, that’s why I appreciate what every player does. Injury is part of it.”