It's been almost 13 months since Eagles defensive tackle Mike Patterson suffered a four-minute seizure during a training camp session. Doctors later discovered that he a rare condition that is often without symptoms. Still, Patterson started 15 games last season, missing Week 17 because of the flu.
"No one ever really said I'm going to have to quit playing football -- as long as those words never came out, I was pretty happy," Patterson said at the time. "It wasn't on my mind, because I don't like to take myself there getting yourself worried for no reason."
But in January, Patterson underwent brain surgery. Doctors removed an arteriovenous malformation -- a tangle of blood vessels. He was expected to be ready for offseason workouts and ultimately training camp. Instead, coach Andy Reid said over the weekend that the 28-year-old defensive tackle could miss the 2012 season.
Patterson never participated in camp because the incision from his surgery hadn't fully healed. The Eagles could choose to put him on the physically-unable-to-perform list to begin the season, which would mean he could be reevaluated in six weeks. At that time, Patterson would either be activated to the 53-man roster or put on season-ending injured reserve.
Reid was asked Sunday about Patterson's availability.
"Listen, I think that is going to be an extended time," he said via comments distributed by the team. "We just have to see how that goes if he is able to go at all. We’ll have to see how that works out. We’ll take checkups in increments here but right now it is going to be a while.”
The news came as a surprise because it was the first indication that Patterson's season was in jeopardy. According to the Philadelphia Daily News' Les Bowen, Dr. Robert Spetzler, the specialist who performed Patterson's surgery in January, hadn't seen enough healing to clear the defensive tackle to return to practice even though Patterson and the team thought he was ready.
So while Patterson's immediate future may be in question, there is good news: the Eagles say the most recent setback isn't career-threatening. In the meantime, Philly is stacked along the defensive line. Reid even said that there's a chance he keeps six defensive ends on the final roster.
“Yeah, there’s a chance," he said. I’m stingy when it comes to defensive linemen, but we’ve got to work the numbers and we’ll just see how all that pans out. [There will be] some tough decisions all the way around there.”
Taking the broader view of the D-line, Bowen offers this:
You figure, Jason Babin, Trent Cole, (Cullen) Jenkins, Fletcher Cox, Derek Landri, Vinny Curry, (Cedric) Thornton, (Phillip) Hunt and Brandon Graham make the team, no question. Mike Patterson, clearly headed for the physically unable to perform list, won't count against the limit. Then there are (Darryl) Tapp and veteran defensive tackle Antonio Dixon. Could the Eagles keep 11 d-linemen?
Thanks to all the depth, Philly can afford to wait for Patterson to fully recover. There's so much depth, in fact, Reid might be willing to part with some via a trade.
“Yeah, there’s a chance," he admitted. "There’s a chance. I’m stingy when it comes to defensive linemen, but we’ve got to work the numbers and we’ll just see how all that pans out. [There will be] some tough decisions all the way around there.”