Brandon Brooks has had quite the ambitious timetable with his injury, but is optimistic about being ready for Week 1

Brandon Brooks has had quite the ambitious timetable with his injury, but is optimistic about being ready for Week 1

Eagles left guard Brandon Brooks surprised a lot of people by returning to practice the first day of training camp, six short months after suffering a torn Achilles tendon.

Perhaps the only person who wasn’t surprised was Brooks himself.

“Not one bit,” said Brooks. “That’s what I expected to do.”

Though he didn’t participate in full team drills on Thursday, Brooks avoided starting camp on the physically unable to perform list, a sign the club is confident he’ll be ready to go relatively soon.

Brooks always maintained his goal is to be ready for Week 1 since exiting the Eagles’ divisional round playoff loss to New Orleans on a cart in January. Yet, Achilles injuries are notoriously difficult to recover from, with timetables to return often placed in the neighborhood of one year – sometimes longer.

Still, speculation that Brooks might not play at all in 2019, or might not be the same player if he returned quickly was “crazy” to the two-time Pro Bowl selection.

“It’s interesting because when the injury happened… it was all of a sudden like my 2019 season was in jeopardy and all this other s---,” said Brooks. “To me, it was never in doubt if I was gonna play in 2019. It was never in doubt that I wasn’t going to miss half the season. That was never a thought in my mind.”

Brooks’ timetable for return is ambitious, but not unheard of. He pointed to All-Pro outside linebacker Terrell Suggs’ seemingly miraculous recovery from the same injury in 2012.

Suggs suffered the torn Achilles during the offseason, only to return midway through the season and help the Ravens win the Super Bowl.

“I talked to (Suggs) about it,” said Brooks. “He came back in like five or six months, so I had to find out, ‘What are you doing?’”

Brooks has teammate and fellow offensive lineman Jason Peters to refer to as well. Peters ruptured his Achilles twice during the 2012 offseason. He missed the entire season, but eventually returned to form, paving the way for a LeSean McCoy rushing championship in ’13 and going to four consecutive Pro Bowls.

“It’s obviously one thing to be a doctor or medical staff and tell you how it’s gonna feel dealing with an Achilles,” said Brooks. “It’s another thing to be a player that actually tore it, see how he was feeling, some of the issues he was having at the time, or some of the things that maybe I don’t know about yet.”

But as it turns out, Brooks may have been a little lucky as Achilles injuries go. The severity is not the same across the board.

“Of the three ways you can tear your Achilles – off the heel, more toward the calf and then the middle – mine was the best,” said Brooks. “I guess you could look at it that way. It was right in the middle. It didn’t retract or anything. It just tore and just stayed there so I was fortunate that way.”

Brooks isn’t quite out of the woods. For now, he’s participating in individual drills, then has “track practice” while the rest of the group does team. Eventually, he’ll need to demonstrate he can handle work and contact in an 11-on-11 environment.

The Eagles have a plan. Brooks isn’t sure he’ll play at all during the preseason, and says he’s not worried about that, either. The next step is to ramp up his practice time as Week 1 approaches.

“We’ll get the pads on so I can really get some bumpin’ in and, hopefully toward the end, slowly integrate me back into practice with the team,” said Brooks.

Brooks acknowledged whether he plays Week 1 really isn’t up to him. However, he’s been optimistic throughout the entire process and continues to believe he’ll achieve that goal.

“When you’re used to working hard, hard work is easy work,” said Brooks. “It was never like ‘I tore my Achilles so it’s an uphill battle, it’s gonna suck.’ That was never my mentality. I know it’s gonna be hard. Playing in the NFL is hard. It was just another obstacle in my way.”

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One company offering Super Bowl ticket loans at 30% interest (P.S. -- dont do this)

One company offering Super Bowl ticket loans at 30% interest (P.S. -- dont do this)

It’s “easier than ever” to attend the Super Bowl, according to a Stub Hub press release.

It may also be easier than ever to go into debt doing it.

StubHub this week announced a program that allows fans to finance ticket purchases — including Super Bowl tickets — and pay for them over a period of 3, 6 or 12 months.

All at the bargain-basement price of up to 30 percent interest.

Stub Hub, in conjunction with financial firm Affirm, introduced a program this week that allows consumers to use Stub Hub to purchase tickets and during the check-out process elect to finance the purchase through Affirm. 

Although ticket buyers can use Affirm for most Stub Hub purchase, the company is rolling out this program as a way to encourage fans who can’t afford Super Bowl tickets to buy them at potentially exorbitant interest rates.

According to financial web site The Balance, the average credit card interest rate as of December was 21.26 percent.

“Just in time for the Super Bowl, consumers can purchase event tickets now and pay over time,” reads a joint press release from Affirm and Stub Hub. 

The StubHub-Affirm joint press release makes it sound like paying 30 percent interest is a financially sound idea: “With U.S. credit card debt at an all-time high and many consumers looking to kick off the new year with better financial habits, they’re demanding more transparent financial products that align with their interests.”

According to a CBS News story that examined the Stub Hub program, two lower-level end-zone tickets selling on Stub Hub for $15,760 on a 12-month, 30-percent loan would cost the buyer an additional $2,676 in interest.

The story also said that unlike credit cards, there’s no financial benefit for consumers to pay this sort of loan off early. 

Ted Rossman of creditcards.com appeared on CBS MoneyWatch and warned consumers against using this sort of financial plan to pay for tickets makes no financial sense.

"It is a huge risk to make any type of discretionary purchase with something that carries a rate of 10 percent to 30 percent,” Rossman said on the show, according to the CBS News story. "It's risky to buy it now and think you are going to pay it later."

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After egregious All-Pro snub, Brandon Brooks named top OL in NFL

After egregious All-Pro snub, Brandon Brooks named top OL in NFL

Earlier this month, Jason Kelce called Brandon Brooks “the best offensive lineman in the NFL.” 

Turns out, ProFootballFocus agrees.

On Thursday, PFF named Brooks the winner of its annual Bruce Matthews Award, given to the best offensive lineman in the NFL. The Eagles were also named the best overall offensive line in the league. 

It’s an honor Brooks deserves after he was egregiously snubbed by voters for the Associated Press All-Pro team earlier this month. It was an absolute joke that Brooks wasn’t even named to the second team. No disrespect to Zack Martin or Marshal Yanda but Brooks was better than both of them this year. 

There’s no doubt that Brooks is the best right guard in the NFL. PFF thinks he’s the best overall OL in the league too. 

Here’s what they said about him:

“Brooks has been a perennially underrated player throughout his NFL career, whether it was playing in Houston or Philadelphia. Aside from a rookie season in which he played just 173 snaps, he has earned overall PFF grades of at least 74.0 every season since. Four of those six seasons before this one saw him top 80.0 overall, but this year he took his game to another level, earning an overall grade of 92.9. For years we have been making the case that he deserves Pro Bowl, and then All-Pro, recognition, and now he deserves to be acknowledged as the best offensive linemen in the game.”

While opinions are split on ProFootballFocus, their evaluations for offensive linemen are incredibly valuable. PFF has been able to give stats to a position that was previously stat-less. No, they don’t necessarily know assignments or the exact designs of plays, but they grade each and every play and that detailed analysis can take some of the human element out of giving these awards. 

When the All-Pro voters made their selections, they picked two guys at right guard in Martin and Yanda who have a longer history of playing at an elite level. PFF doesn’t care about that. They did their game-by-game, play-by-play evaluations and came to the conclusion that no other offensive lineman was better than Brooks this season. 

According to PFF, Brooks gave up just one sack and and 19 pressures on 647 pass snaps. That’s pretty impressive. But it’s even more impressive that Brooks was that dominant eight months after suffering a torn Achilles. 

For the start of next season, Brooks will be coming off a shoulder surgery, but there’s no doubt he should be able to return to his dominant form in 2020. 

The Eagles know what they have in Brooks. They signed the three-time Pro Bowler to a four-year extension during the season that made him the highest-paid guard in the NFL and will keep him in Philadelphia through 2024.

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