Joselio Hanson returned to work yesterday, eager to put his 4-week suspension behind him, eager to help the Eagles move another step closer to the playoffs when they face the Giants up in the Meadowlands Sunday night.
"I felt pretty good, I felt fresh,'' the fifth-year cornerback said after participating in his first practice in more than a month. "Even my technique was good. That's the thing I was the most worried about. But it was fine. The next things now is the game.''
Hanson is expected to return to his nickel cornerback role Sunday, which has been filled the last three games by safety Macho Harris.
"The last 4 weeks have been tough,'' Hanson said. "Compared to when I got released by the 49ers [in 2004] and was out [of the NFL] for the whole year, this was even worse. Because it was something so, to me, so innocent.
"The money [the four game checks he had to forfeit] didn't even matter. I would've given them all my money and just played in the games if I could.''
He couldn't, of course. Hanson was suspended Nov. 11 for violating the league's policy regarding performance-enhancing drugs. He tested positive for a banned diuretic that he took prior to last season's NFC Championship Game.
According to Hanson, he felt bloated after eating Chinese food the day before the Eagles' 32-25 loss to Arizona, and ingested a pill that turned out to be a diuretic that was on the league's banned-substance list. Both he and his agent have declined to say what he took or what the diuretic was he tested positive for.
"It was very unfair,'' he said. "It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out. It was what it was, and I've got to move on now.''
Hanson elected to appeal his suspension rather than serve it at the beginning of the season. "We fought it as best we could,'' he said. "I thought I had a good chance [to get it overturned or delayed]. But in the NFL, when you make an innocent mistake, it can be as innocent as can be and they still won't let you take it back. But it's past me now and I've got to get ready for the Giants.''
Hanson said that if he knew he would lose his appeal, he would've just served his suspension at the beginning of the season rather than miss four games during the teeth of the campaign.
The same week that Hanson was suspended, the Eagles also lost their other top backup corner, Ellis Hobbs, who suffered a season-ending spine injury. But the defense held up pretty well in their absence. The Eagles won three of the four games Hanson missed, holding their opponents to a .597 completion percentage and 5.8 yards per attempt.
But just one of those four teams was ranked higher than 15th in the league in passing (San Diego, sixth). Last week, the Eagles beat an Atlanta Falcons team that was without its starting quarterback, starting running back, two starting offensive linemen and one of its starting wide receivers.
"The first week was the roughest,'' said Hanson. "We had a shortage of [cornerbacks] and it was fresh in my mind. The anger. But as the weeks went on, I just had to let it go, man. Just let it go and move on.''
Hanson wasn't allowed to practice with the team during his suspension. He wasn't even allowed to set foot in the team's training facility.
"The guys were very supportive,'' he said of his teammates. "They texted me, called me when I was gone. I love these guys."
Hanson said he's not worried about any damage to his reputation from the suspension, not worried if there are uninformed people out there who are going to lump him in with the A-Rods and Roger Clemens and Shawne Merrimans of the world.
"I'm not really worried about what people think," he said. "The bottom line is, if I knew that what I was taking [was banned], I wouldn't have taken it.
"My teammates know what kind of guy I am. They respect me. I can't worry about what a guy down at the barbershop thinks. I can't worry about that.''
Right now, the only thing he's worried about is getting ready for the Giants.