BRANDON GRAHAM said that when he talks or texts with Fletcher Cox, he is careful not to ask when Cox plans to report for duty with the Eagles.
"I try to be a friend and not really talk to him about that. I don't want him to think I'm the police," Graham said Friday as the Eagles wrapped up the optional part of their spring work. Players gather Monday for physicals, before a mandatory three-day minicamp starts Tuesday. Those are the last sessions before training camp, and the only mandatory part of the offseason setup.
Coach Doug Pederson said Friday he expects defensive tackle Cox and running back Darren Sproles, who have skipped the optional practices, to be on hand.
"All indications" are that Cox will attend, Pederson said. "We'd love to have him here. Don't know for sure. He hasn't made that official yet, but we expect him fully to be here . . . I fully expect Darren to be here, as well."
Pederson said he still has not spoken with Cox, who is trying to negotiate a long-term deal to replace the fifth-year option in his rookie contract, scheduled to pay him $7.799 million this season. He said de facto general manager Howie Roseman remains in contact with Cox's agent, Todd France. Pederson said running backs coach Duce Staley is in contact with Sproles.
Graham indicated he wouldn't be surprised either way with Cox.
"I've been here a long time and I've seen a lot of things. You never can tell - they might get a deal done the night before" minicamp, Graham said.
It isn't entirely clear why Sproles hasn't been at NovaCare. One report indicated he was unsettled when his name came up in potential trade talks around the time of the draft, and was waiting to see whether he might be traded, something the Eagles have said won't happen. Pederson has said he is OK with Sproles, who turns 33 on June 20, limiting wear and tear on his legs.
"There's no indication" from either player's camp that Cox or Sproles will risk being fined by not attending mandatory work, Pederson said.
"It's the only mandatory aspect of the entire offseason program, so I, as the head football coach, expect both of those guys to be back and be a part of their team and be back in the locker room. I think it's important that they are both here."
Asked the consequences if either didn't show, Pederson said that was a "team issue" he would not discuss with reporters.
A player missing the entire three-day minicamp can be fined a maximum of $76,580. In contract-related situations, such fines often are waived if a deal ultimately is reached. Cox, the Eagles' first-round pick in 2012 and one of the league's premier interior linemen, might command as much as a $60 million guarantee on a long-term contract.
Doug Pederson said linebacker Jordan Hicks (quadriceps) will participate next week on a limited basis, as will wideout Rueben Randle (gall bladder surgery). He said cornerbacks Nolan Carroll (ankle) and JaCorey Shepherd (knee) are scheduled to take part in team activities . . . Pederson said he sees Stefen Wisniewski as more of a guard than as a possible threat to Jason Kelce's status as the starting center. "It would take quite a bit" to unseat Kelce, Pederson said.