After Ellis Hobbs took a hit to the head returning a kickoff against the Cowboys last Nov. 8, it was hard to see him ending up where he is today, the starting right corner for the Eagles heading into training camp.
One problem was, after arriving in a trade last year from New England,* Hobbs had been given a chance to wrest a starting role away from disgruntled incumbent Sheldon Brown, and hadn't done that. He was playing only situationally, and not that well. But a more pressing problem was that Hobbs couldn't feel his legs.
"For a brief second, I couldn't move. I stood up, after what seemed like an eternity -- maybe five seconds or so," Hobbs recalled after taking part in much of yesterday's Eagles camp for rookies and select vets. "Walking funny afterwards. The doctors sitting right there, seeing me on the sideline, said I had every symptom of, basically, the type of injury I had -- a disc that came out. It's just one of those things where, after the fact, you look at it (as being) more scary than when it did happen."
Eagles coach Andy Reid said the next day that Hobbs' neck injury could be career-threatening. It ended his season. Ultimately, an anterior cervical decompression and fusion gave him the green light to return to football. When the Eagles traded Brown to Cleveland this offseason, general manager Howie Roseman identified Hobbs as the new starter opposite Asante Samuel -- reuniting New England's starting corners from 2007. Many observers wondered if that indeed would be the case by September; it was at least mildly surprising that the Birds waited until the fourth round of last month's draft to tab a corner, taking Kentucky's Trevard Lindley there. Some people feel there still could be a move for vet coming.
Hobbs said he had no idea he had been identified as the new starter.
"I don't get involved in that stuff as far as the politics of the game and whatever -- politics is definitely there. I feel like you lay all th cards out on the table and what's going to happen is going to happen ... All I can do is go out there and play when I get my opportunities, and I try to do the best that I can all the time," he said. "I always feel like I'm the starter, in my mind, all the time."
Hobbs said he expects to be full-go and cleared for contact when training camp begins in two months.
*Post originally said he signed as a free-agent, thanks to commentor for correcting.
Hobbs was one of eight vets not present last week who have joined this week's workouts at NovaCare -- a group that includes the top two quarterbacks, Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick, along with defensive end Darryl Tapp, weakside linebacker Ernie Sims, running back Mike Bell, center/guard Mike McGlynn and corner Dimitri Patterson.
Kolb agreed that every OTA for him is a little different this year, with Donovan McNabb gone and all eyes on Kolb as the new starter.
"It is a totally different approach," he said. "I'm already setting myself up for, 'hey, look it off this way because this is the way it's going to be in gametime.' ... try to work gametime mode as much as possible."
Kolb said he is working on "little things -- don't pat the ball, keep the ball high, footwork, have a good base."