The Philadelphia Eagles can possibly challenge for the Super Bowl - if they are completely healthy. Yet Eagles fans like myself are used to injuries altering their best laid plains. It's why the Kevin Kolb era ended in just one half in 2010, and why everyone is expecting Michael Vick to get hurt at least once in 2012. As such, with training camp under way, it isn't a good sign that some important players are already getting tweaked up.
Cullen Jenkins was the latest to fall on Aug. 1 with a hamstring injury. As a result, he now joins Trent Cole, Jason Babin and Mike Patterson - the entire starting defensive line - on the Eagles' injured list. Yet none of them are expected to miss any regular season time for the moment.
Still, if they're already vulnerable to injuries, Philadelphia has to hold its breath. It already had to scramble to make up for one serious injury, after Jason Peters suffered a season-ending Achilles tear in March. The Eagles made up for it by landing Demetress Bell in the offseason, yet it will be harder to get prime injury replacements during the regular season.
There were no good replacements for Vick when he missed time in 2011, as Mike Kafka and Vince Young hardly helped matters. With Vick widely expected to miss at least a game or two in 2012, given his history, it is even more important that the Eagles stay healthy - on both sides of the ball - as much as possible.
They also have to hope that Jeremy Maclin doesn't have any more problems with migraines, that DeSean Jackson doesn't have another concussion, and that LeSean McCoy's workload doesn't become too much for him. On paper, this Eagles team has enough weapons to contend, but that is only if they perform to their abilities and stay on the field - and there's no lockout or compressed training schedule to use as an excuse anymore.
The exhibition schedule hasn't started yet, but Philadelphia is already crossing its fingers for its injuries to stay manageable. Every team has to do that, yet not every club has as much on the line as the Eagles. With tentative Super Bowl hopes and the legacies of Vick and Andy Reid at stake, all it could take is one bad hit or tweek to make everything crash and burn.
Jenkins, Cole and Babin haven't quite suffered anything that extreme yet, and hopefully Vick, McCoy, Jackson and Maclin won't come close to it. But Philadelphia already fears that Vick's talk about dynasties will be a bad omen for the coming year. So what kind of omen can an actual serious problem like early injuries bring?
Robert Dougherty is a life-long Philadelphia resident who has followed the Eagles since he was eight years old.
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