Preseason sacks aren't generally a big deal, unless you're a rookie getting your first, or a veteran returning from an injury or other threat to your livelihood. For Philadelphia Eagles defensive tackle Mike Patterson, his appearance against the Cleveland Browns was important for the latter reason. Just three weeks and a day after he suffered a seizure on the practice field and had to be taken to the hospital, Patterson was on the turf at Philly Lincoln Financial Field, ready to play again.
And in a Thursday 24-14 win against the Cleveland Browns, Patterson broke through and took Cleveland quarterback Colt McCoy to the ground with a little over 12 minutes left in the first quarter, beating an obvious hold by left guard Jason Pinkston in the process. It was a special moment precisely because Patterson had come so far, so fast.
"It feels good being out here with the fellas, feeding off the energy," Patterson said after the game. "The fans came out strong, and it just felt so good to be out here. I was a little bit nervous at first. I had to get that feeling back. But, it felt pretty good and I felt pretty happy to get a hit on him.
"I think so far, so good. There's still plenty of work left to be done, but so far, so good."
That outcome seemed a long way away on August 3, when Patterson fell to the ground and started shaking violently during an Eagles practice at the team facility in Lehigh, Pa. As his teammates prayed for his recovery, rookie guard Danny Watkins — a longtime volunteer fireman — helped paramedics tend to the 6-foot-1, 300-pound, seventh-year player.
Patterson was diagnosed with a brain arteriovenous malformation, which is a tangle of blood vessels in his skull. After extensive meetings with doctors, it was decided that medication could manage the condition, and that seizures were not likely to happen again under those circumstances.
It wasn't just Patterson's return that was big news for the Eagles — a week after they were taken apart by the Pittsburgh Steelers in a 24-14 laugher in which Michael Vick threw three interceptions, the Eagles bounced back in a big way. They'll face the New York Jets next Thursday, September 1, to close out their preseason.
And against the odds, they'll have Mike Patterson with them.