Life is different for Jon Runyan these days, and it has nothing to do with the fact that he spent yesterday afternoon on a two-hour road trip to pick up his pet pig.

"She had some kind of allergic reaction Sunday night," Runyan said.

The veterinarian treated the pig with Benadryl, and Runyan said she seemed to respond well.

If only it was that easy to recover from microfracture surgery.

That's the procedure Runyan needed Jan. 28 after playing most of the Eagles' 2008 season with damaged cartilage in his right knee. Birmingham-based surgeon James Andrews performed the surgery and has monitored Runyan's rehab.

Even if Runyan, 35, weren't a free agent, he wouldn't be able to participate in the Eagles' full-squad camp that opens today at the NovaCare Complex. His hope is that when NFL training camps begin at the end of next month, he will be ready to work. He's convinced that if he can play, some team will sign him.

"I don't worry about the situation," Runyan said. "Ultimately, the biggest thing I have to do is get this knee right. There are 31 other slots where I can go play. Even if it's not now, somewhere down the road there are going to be a wave of injuries, so I have to take care of what I can and let the rest work itself out."

In Runyan's perfect world, the call to continue his career would come from the Eagles, but that doesn't seem likely with the additions of Stacy Andrews and Jason Peters, as well as the anticipated return of Shawn Andrews from a back injury. Runyan said Eagles trainer Rick Burkholder checks in on him about once every three weeks, and he recently spoke to coach Andy Reid at a charity event.

"We weren't talking much business," Runyan said. "He asked how I was feeling. They are keeping tabs on me."

The Eagles, however, seem quite comfortable with the idea of Shawn Andrews starting at right tackle, the position that belonged to Runyan for all of this decade. Does Runyan think Andrews has what it takes to make the move from Pro Bowl right guard to right tackle?

"He has the ability to do it, and now it's about going out and getting comfortable through the repetition of doing it," Runyan said.

Durability, of course, has never been an issue with Runyan. Dating back to the 1997 season with the Tennessee Titans, Runyan has started 190 straight games. The streak is 208 games if you add in his 18 career playoff games.

By contrast, Shawn Andrews has missed 30 games in five seasons, including 14 last year.

"He has missed more than two seasons in five years, so that is something you do have to worry about," Runyan said. "I think sometimes he worries about how he's going to feel down the road, and you can't worry about those kinds of things. You have to go out and let it all loose. Don't worry about that stuff because that's not how you play the game. That's how you get hurt, when you start worrying about that stuff."

Runyan, even after playing through all sorts of injuries during his 13-year NFL career, isn't worried about what his body is going to feel like at 50. If he were, he wouldn't be so eager to get back on the field for his 14th season.

"I wasn't going to be able to walk four years ago, so what's the difference?" Runyan said. "I still love playing the game. Until my body totally tells me I'm not able to do it or until someone else physically removes me, I'm going to keep doing it. Sure, it does change your life because of the aches and pains you have. But who doesn't have those pains when they get older? In the same light, my body hurts, but I don't know what a normal 35-year-old feels like because I haven't lived in somebody else's body."

Runyan said he has a trip to see Andrews scheduled for after the Fourth of July weekend, and he's waiting for clearance to begin running and making the cuts needed to be an effective offensive lineman.

"The surgery did its job," Runyan said. "With any rehab you don't want to jump into something before you're ready. You push yourself, see how your body reacts and, if it goes well, you push yourself some more. The great thing is I haven't had any setbacks so far. Everything I've thrown at my knee, it has handled."

The next steps are running, cutting, and finding a job.

"We've been in contact with a few teams," Runyan said. "Everybody says the same thing: 'What will you be able to do and when will you be able to do it?' I don't know that answer yet. I don't know how my body is going to react to the next month. I have to get it right and when I do, people will be waiting for me."

Contact staff writer Bob Brookover
at 215-854-2577 or bbrookover@phillynews.com.