Early Birds: DeMeco Ryans' rehab and future; Malcolm Jenkins' leadership; Mark Sanchez's experience in Philadelphia
1) DeMeco Ryans will remain in Philadelphia throughout much of the offseason rehabbing his ruptured Achilles tendon. This is important for Ryans, because when he was rehabbing the same injury in 2010, the NFL went into a lockout and he needed to find a new training staff to finish the rehab.
Ryans returned to the University of Alabama. He said they did a good job, but it was not like if he was in Houston with a medical and training staff devoted to him.
"There is an advantage to having guys who have their eyes and hands on me every day throughout this rehab process," Ryans said. "I'm encouraged by that, knowing we'll have a better process this time."
Ryans, 30, has a cap number of $6.9 million next season. But when coach Chip Kelly spoke about him on Monday, it sounded as if there was no question that Ryans would return. The Eagles just need Ryans to get healthy.
"I think you have to monitor his rehab," Kelly said. "When you go through, you listen to what our trainers and strength and conditioning coaches say. But it sounds like he's right on track. He's moving around. He's out of the walking cast now and I think he's starting to do some movement things now. But we need DeMeco. I'm a big DeMeco fan. As a group, he really sets the tone for everybody on the defense side of the ball. So it's just a matter of getting DeMeco healthy again."
2) When the Eagles signed Malcolm Jenkins in March, they were bullish about his personality in addition to his skill set. Jenkins was expected to become a leader in the defensive secondary. He quickly established himself as one of the most respected players in the locker room, and it happened in his first season.
"I would say one of the leaders," Jenkins said of how he imparted his leadership in the first season. "I wouldn't say I have sole ownership of the leadership. We have great guys that show up every day – Connor Barwin, Fletcher Cox – guys who really not only lead vocally, but lead with their play and what they do on a daily basis. But especially with DeMeco stepping out, I've stepped into that role as that vocal leader. I've had to come in day in, day out and steer the ship."
Now, Jenkins is no longer a newcomer. He has a full offseason in which the players know him, the team knows him, and he is familiar with his setting. So how can his leadership come into play during the next few months?
"When we come back, the biggest thing is trying to make everyone around me better," Jenkins said. "It's not only about getting myself better from this year to next, but it's how, as a leader, can I get the team and who I impact on the team get to that next level?"
3) Mark Sanchez arrived in Philadelphia coming off a major injury and a lost season. He was a franchise quarterback competing for a backup quarterback spot. Sanchez started eight games and went 4-4. He showed flashes in which he appeared like a capable starter, but he was also plagued by turnovers. Sanchez said there will be time to evaluate his progress and figure out his future. Whatever happens, this season in Philadelphia will be a significant part of his career considering the uncertainty when he arrived.
"It's really meant the world to me to be back on the field and to get an opportunity here, in Philly, I couldn't ask for better teammates and a better system," Sanchez said. "It's been so much fun. And these guys, getting to know them, not just as players but personally, some of the best guys I've been around. Really fun. Just an incredible time.
"It was nice just to get back to playing and having fun and smiling. I can't tell you how many text messages I got from family, like, 'It's so good seeing you back on the field smiling, having fun doing what you're doing.' So that was the most important thing."