Head Defensive Bird Takes Leave of Absence

Eagles Defensive Coordinator Jim Johnson took an indefinite leave of absence so that he can focus on his fight against cancer.

Johnson was granted a leave of absence for an indefinite period, the Eagles announced Monday.

The move was a bit of surprise considering that just a few weeks ago Johnson said he was feeling good when he spoke to the media during Eagles mini camp.

After the Eagles NFC Championship Game loss Johnson revealed that he had melanoma that had spread to his back. The pain forced Johnson into the press box to coach the Eagles' final playoff games.

The team was most concerned about Johnson's health rather than his ability to return to the field.

"Jim and I agreed that he needs to concentrate all of his efforts on his recovery,” said head coach Andy Reid. “His health is number one. He’s struggling, but he’s a tough guy and a true battler. I hope everyone will keep him in their thoughts and prayers during this period of time. We hope to have him back with the team as soon as possible.”

Secondary coach Sean McDermott will pick up the reigns of the defense on an interim basis, the team announced.

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