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Trying to Solve Eagles’ Injury Epidemic

Quarterback Carson Wentz #11 of the Philadelphia Eagles is hit by Jadeveon Clowney #90 of the Seattle Seahawks during the NFC Wild Card Playoff game at Lincoln Financial Field
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They've changed trainers. They've changed team physicians. They've added a medical CEO.  

And still … injury after injury after injury.

Injuries decimated the Eagles for a third straight year in 2019, and this year was worse than ever.

Some 26 key Eagles missed significant playing time because of injuries this year, and it's really easier to list the ones who didn't than the ones who did.

Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Jason Kelce, Rodney McLeod and Isaac Seumalo are the only starters who didn't get hurt.

Backups and occasional starters Vinny Curry, Nate Gerry, Rasul Douglas, Josh Sweat and T.J. Edwards managed to stay healthy.

Among regular position players? That's about it.

Thanks to an almost unbelievable run of injuries, the Eagles' team that finished the season didn't remotely resemble the one that started it.

The Eagles have a big problem on their hands. 

Too many players are getting hurt. Too many are out longer than expected. Too many come back too soon. Too many never come back at all.

Howie Roseman acknowledged Wednesday that all of this is an issue, and he said figuring out why this keeps happening will be an offseason priority.

"One of the things that obviously has been an issue for us has been the injury situation," he said in his first media availability since roster cut-down day in early September. "When we look at the last three years, in 2017, we were able to overcome it. The last two years, the injuries have really hurt our football team."

This is nothing new. 

The Eagles have been trying to figure this out for a couple years now, but a new trainer and new team physicians didn't change anything.

"There is a part of that that is natural during the game," Roseman said. "Injuries are going to happen. But we have to figure out a way to get better here. We can help from a front office perspective by looking at the players that we bring in. Hope is not a strategy when it comes to injuries. When you bring in guys that are injured, it obviously increases the risk that they will get hurt again."

The Eagles began the year with the third-oldest roster in the NFL, and there's no question there's a correlation between that and the number of injuries.

Most notably, Jason Peters, Darren Sproles and DeSean Jackson finished a combined 20 games.

Malik Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, Lane Johnson, Brandon Brooks and Nigel Bradham, all 29 or 30, missed significant time.

"I think that when you talk about the chance of getting hurt, the older you get, the higher chance you have of getting hurt," Roseman said. "So I definitely think that's a factor in the injuries. I mean, my body doesn't feel the same way that it did five, six, seven, eight, nine years ago. Yeah, the simple answer is yes."

But injuries struck younger guys too. Derrick Barnett and Avonte Maddox are 23. Ronald Darby and Kamu Grugier-Hill are 25. Nelson Agholor is 26. They all missed multiple games. 

This is tricky stuff because every team has significant injuries. The Eagles have to figure out why they have so many.

One area the Eagles haven't changed at all is the strength and conditioning department.

Strength and conditioning coach Josh Hingst and director of high performance Shaun Huls have both been here since soon after Chip Kelly became head coach after the 2012 season, and assistant strength coach Keith Gray has been here since after the 2011 season.

The Eagles last summer took the unusual step of hiring Arsh Dhanota, founder and director of the Penn Regenerative Sports Medicine and Orthobiologics Program, as chief medical officer.

Kind of a general manager of injuries.

"This is someone that we are very, very excited to have," Roseman said. "He came in in June and what he asked for us was that he would observe, observe through the season, observe our training staff, observe our weight staff, our sports science, our processes, and make recommendations to us that we would carry out. So we're excited about that."

Will he help?

With the Eagles' luck, he'll probably get hurt.

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