Victor Abiamiri is so much of an afterthought that when Andy Reid was asked at the owners meetings last month about his defensive end situation, he failed to mention his second-round draft pick.
And who could blame the Eagles coach?
The 57th overall pick in the 2007 draft, Abiamiri has played in just 29 out of a possible 64 regular-season games. In 2008, he suffered a dislocated wrist and a Lisfranc foot sprain. In 2009, he suffered a back sprain and a knee injury. Microfracture surgery on his knee followed in February and caused Abiamiri to miss all of 2010.
"I know I have something to prove to the coaches and a lot of people that are doubting me, but that's fine," Abiamiri said. "I'm no stranger to hard work."
The world of sports is filled with athletes who have failed to rebound from microfracture knee surgery. Abiamiri said that his knee is 100 percent recovered. If it is and he is finally healthy enough to contribute, the Eagles may get the defensive end help many thought they should have gotten in last week's draft.
Brandon Graham is a "real stretch" to be back by the season opener, Reid said in March, after the rookie suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his knee in December. And starters Trent Cole and Juqua Parker both wore down last season.
Questioned about his backup plan at the owners meetings, Reid responded with "Te'o, Sapp, and Tapp," referring to Daniel Te'o-Nesheim, Ricky Sapp, and Darryl Tapp. Tapp is a competent rotation end, but Te'o-Nesheim hardly contributed last season and Sapp spent the whole season on injured reserve.
Because of the lack of depth, it was thought that the Eagles would add another pass rusher in the draft, especially with a defense predicated on pressuring the quarterback. But they did not use any of their 11 picks on a defensive end.
The lockout has put free agency on hold, so there is still an opportunity for the Eagles to sign a defensive end. Getting Abiamiri back would only bolster the group, though. The former Notre Dame player showed glimpses of explosiveness when he did manage to play.
The Eagles monitored the 25-year-old's rehab up until the lockout, and Abiamiri said he is as strong as he has ever been. He has joined a group of Eagles players who have been working out at a sports training facility in Cherry Hill during the work stoppage.
As optimistic as he is, Abiamiri admits that injuries have left him frustrated.
"Short answer: Yeah. Injuries are part of the game. Unfortunately, it's happened to me more than most," Abiamiri said. "I'm sure some people have written me off. What's important is that I haven't written myself off."