Bradley Given Medical Clearance to Practice
There was a sudden release of positive news from the injury front today, as the Eagles’ young middle linebacker Stewart Bradley announced that he has been cleared to practice with the team by his doctors. Philadelphia is set to open it’s annual post-Draft minicamp this weekend, and it’s certainly uplifting to know that one of the key pieces to the defensive side of the ball will finally be able to get back on the field after missing the entire 2009 season because of a torn ACL. Originally brought into the league by the Eagles in the 3rd-round of the 2007 NFL Draft, Bradley was considered one of the top youthful players at his position not too long ago, and is surely excited to return to the starting lineup and act as a productive leader.
“I’m coming along great, and in fact I was just cleared by the doctors to practice this weekend,” Bradley said during a brief conference call with the Eagles’ media group. “I am really excited to get back on the field. I don’t think I will have any limitations…I’ve missed the game, the competition. I can’t wait to get started.” The three-year veteran is being reasonable when he expresses his desire to get back on the field. After all, he hasn’t been in uniform since the summer of last year and was regarded as one of the team’s most valuable defenders a few seasons ago. In his ’08 campaign, Bradley (pictured) started all 16 games and recorded 108 total tackles, as well as a sack, forced fumble, and interception. Heading into the 2009 season, he was projected to put up Pro-Bowl-quality numbers, but unfortunately saw his plans for the year go downhill when the Nebraska product sustained a knee injury (later revealed to be a torn ACL) during the team’s first-ever Flight Night event, a special exhibition of Training Camp.
Bradley’s absence definitely had an effect on the Eagles’ play at the middle linebacker spot this past season. His initial replacement, Omar Gaither, performed respectably well, but also went down with a season-ending injury early in the year. This forced the team to make a variety of moves and positional rotations throughout the remainder of the season, causing what seemed to be a never-ending switch at the MLB spot and a load of inconsistency. The situation got so bad that the team had to make a move right before the trade deadline to acquire Will Witherspoon from the Rams, and even lure Jeremiah Trotter out of retirement.
Now Bradley is back, and apparently ready to return to his promising form of 2008. In addition to the LB’s return to the field, it is also expected that tight end Cornelius Ingram–a 5th-round Draft pick last offseason who also missed the entire ’09 season with a knee injury–will be able to participate in the nearing minicamp.