Fletcher Cox aims to be back for training camp after foot surgery

Fletcher Cox aims to be back for training camp after foot surgery

Fletcher Cox on Tuesday afternoon confirmed he had offseason foot surgery for an injury he suffered in the Eagles’ playoff loss to the Saints in January. 

It doesn’t sound like Cox will do much this spring. 

“The goal is to be ready for training camp,” Cox said. “Just take it day by day. The doctors and everyone have a schedule and I’m following what they’re doing and everything is going good so far. Training camp is the goal.” 

You’ll remember in that loss to the Saints that Cox had to come out of the game, but kept coming back in after trips to the locker room. He said he would have preferred to stay out there, but the injury was too serious. 

Despite the injury, Cox still played 42 of 77 defensive snaps in that game. 

“My main thing was to finish that game,” he said. “For those guys out there, I always said, I’d give up a limb for those guys.”

Here are a few other nuggets from Cox’s brief press conference as the Eagles are back at the NovaCare Complex for their offseason program: 

While he hasn’t gotten a chance to really talk too much about football with Malik Jackson, Cox seems pretty happy to have the former Pro Bowler in Philly. Jackson will line up next to Cox along the starting defensive line. Cox mentioned that teams can’t choose to slide protection too much one way or the other. 

Another piece of this is that Jackson will likely stay out on the field for third downs instead of moving a defensive end inside. Cox admitted it will be a little different to have the bigger-bodied Jackson inside on those downs. 

Cox also said it’ll take some time for him and Jackson to learn to work together and it won’t just happen in training camp. They’ll need to develop rapport as the season goes on. But after a rotating cast in 2018, having Jackson should really help Cox’s game in 2019 and he was already and All-Pro. 

While Cox said Chris Long is an important piece to the Eagles’ locker room, he isn’t going to try to sway Long’s decision about retirement. He said the two are friends and he wouldn’t want to push him away by trying to force him to make a choice one way or the other. 

This offseason, the Eagles moved on from defensive line coach Chris Wilson, who also coached Cox in college. Cox clearly has admiration for Wilson, but thinks the transition to new DL coach and former assistant DL coach Phillip Daniels will be seamless. Daniels has been with the Eagles for three years as an assistant, so maybe a few drills change, but nothing too drastic. 

Cox understands why Mississippi State’s Jeffery Simmons has been compared to him. Obviously, they’re from the same school, but Simmons is a first-round talent in this draft class with a lot of ability. Unfortunately, he tore his ACL, but still might go in the first round. Cox has chatted with Simmons on occasion and thinks he has a bright future ahead of him. 

When asked about the changes to the defensive tackle position in the last few years, Cox definitely sees it. Guys like him and Aaron Donald have taken over the position. For many teams, interior defensive linemen aren’t just run-stuffers anymore. Those guys need to get after the quarterback. Cox said that the shift in offensive philosophy has led to the rise of interior pass rushers. 

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More on the Eagles

Are 2019 Eagles better or worse at tight end?

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Are 2019 Eagles better or worse at tight end?

Little has changed for the Eagles’ tight ends from this year to last, but rarely does anything truly remain the same in the NFL. Will the unit be better or worse or 2019 after a stationary offseason?

Key additions: None

Key departures: None 

Why they could be better: Dallas Goedert entering Year 2

Goedert showed a lot of promise his rookie year. His 6-foot-4, 260-pound frame was a weapon in the red zone, where he scored four of his five touchdowns (including playoffs), while his sub-4.7 speed created four catches of 20-plus yards – three of those over the Eagles’ last four regular season games. He was even a more polished blocker than anticipated.

Yet, there’s a feeling Goedert was only scratching the surface. His counting totals of 35 receptions, 354 yards in 18 games don’t seem very impressive. Yet, 75 percent of the passes thrown his way were catches, which was good for seventh in the entire league. Goedert played a more consistent role in the Eagles’ offense in general down the stretch, and only figures to see more opportunities in ’19. After a full year in an NFL offense and conditioning program, he could be downright scary.

Why they could be worse: Zach Ertz can’t possibly repeat 2018 volume, can he?

Ertz had 116 receptions – 126 if you count the postseason. The previous record for a tight end was 110, and only four other tight ends have eclipsed 100. Ertz’s previous best: 76. Plus, Goedert’s role will expand. And DeSean Jackson is back with the club. And Alshon Jeffery is entering the season healthy. So whether because Ertz would have to make even more history to match last year’s output, or simply because there are more mouths to feed, his numbers figure to dip.

On the bright side, Ertz could fail to reach 100-plus catches again, yet improve in other areas. His 10.0 yards per reception was the lowest figure for his career, which suggests a lot of those were check downs, or defenses were focused on the tight end. With a better supporting cast surrounding him, Ertz may be more effective at stretching the field and less of a security blanket. Still, overall production is likely to decline.

The X-factor: How much 12 personnel will Eagles use?

The biggest issue with having a proven top-five tight end in Ertz and a potential top-five tight end in Goedert is getting them both on the field. It’s a great problem to have in theory, though one not easily solved. In 2018, the Eagles simply limited Goedert’s snaps – he played just under 50 percent of the time. That also made sense to a degree, as he was still learning the game. What’s the excuse going to be now?

The bottom line is the Eagles may need to employ even more two-tight end packages to get the most out of both players. Of course, they also have three excellent wide receivers, and usually there’s a running back out there, too. It’s a delicate balancing act, and the offense stands to be explosive no matter the exact percentages. Yet, for the purposes of determining where the Eagles’ tight ends will be better or worse, the answer may very well boil down to just how much Ertz and Goedert are out there together.

Are the Eagles’ wide receivers better or worse?

Some folks were peeved Ertz didn’t garner All-Pro honors after a record-setting season. Sure, the catches were great, but is that really who he is? A guy that catches 116 10-yard passes? Ertz is better than that, and while his volume will decrease, the impact stands to grow. Goedert is an ascending talent, and there are options for that third tight end spot, either Josh Perkins, Richard Rodgers or Will Tye . 


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More from the series

Eagle Eye Podcast: Why just 1 open practice is a bad idea

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Eagle Eye Podcast: Why just 1 open practice is a bad idea

On this edition of Eagle Eye, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro discuss the Eagles’ having just one open training camp practice for fans. 

A stroll around the NFC East. 

Also, the guys say goodbye to and old friend and Dave gets ready for an adventure. 

0:30 - The guys are back where their photo shoot took place. 
4:00 - Eagles messed up by limiting training camp access. 
10:00 - Missing Lehigh University.  
19:30 - How was the Cowboys’ spring? 
26:30 - The Giants’ new quarterback got booed at Yankee Stadium. 
31:30 - What’s the ceiling in Washington this year? 
37:30 - Eagles better or worse: QB, RB, WR. 
46:00 - Farewell, Steve. And good luck, Dave.  

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