When it happened, Kamu Grugier-Hill feared his season was over.
"I thought the worst," he said.
In the end, he missed three games.
Grugier-Hill started 10 games at linebacker last year and projected to be a key figure on the defense this year.
He was enjoying a terrific preseason when he suffered a knee sprain during practice back on Aug. 3. He returned to practice last week but didn't play against the Lions.
He'll make his 2019 debut on Thursday night in Green Bay.
Just how much he plays and what his role is remains to be seen.
Definitely playing, just trying to get worked into some things and let my body get right," he said after Tuesday's walkthrough. "I'm just going to get some plays in and just get acclimated. I missed all of training camp so just get that going. I know I'm not going to be out there playing the whole game, but the times I do get just try to get back in the swing of things.
If nothing else, Grugier-Hill can give a breather to Nigel Bradham, who's coming off an injury of his own and has played 183 of a possible 184 defensive snaps in the Eagles' first three games.
Grugier-Hill barely played any defense his first two NFL seasons - one snap on defense as a rookie in 2016 and 85 last year, although he was one of the Eagles' top special teamers during the Super Bowl season. He increased to 328 defensive reps last year.
I'm excited," he said. "I'm just first and foremost happy to even be back. I was going crazy on the sideline by myself [during practice]. I've been going crazy even the couple games in preseason where I didn't travel - in the house by myself just watching. Driving me crazy. But I'm happy to finally be worked in. Happy to be back out there with the guys is huge for me.
The Eagles, 1-2, face the undefeated Packers at 8:20 p.m. Thursday at Lambeau Field in Green Bay.
Is he up for chasing a healthy Aaron Rodgers around in his first game in more than eight months?
"Definitely going to have to be running a lot," Grugier-Hill said. "I'm excited for this game, I'm excited for what the team's going to do. We've kind of been having a rocky road but we're excited to pick it up."
Grugier-Hill came into the league as the Patriots' sixth-round pick in 2016. The Eagles claimed him that summer, so he's still playing on his rookie deal, which means a minimum-wage base salary of $720,000 this year.
He'll be a free agent after the season, so he's got a lot to play for these next 13 games.
Obviously it's one of the most important years of any athlete's career, contract year, so when [the injury[ happened obviously I wasn't stoked about it, but there's nothing I can do about it," he said. "Just focus on getting better, getting my body right, getting back out there and proving to these coaches that I can pick up where I left off.
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