On Wednesday afternoon, Fletcher Cox was talking about the Eagles’ defensive tackle rotation when he said something that caught my attention.
“I feel every guy in that room has something to prove, including myself,” Cox said.
Wait ... what? What could Fletcher Cox have to prove?
Before his 30th birthday, Cox has already been a first-round pick, an All-Pro, a five-time Pro Bowler, a member of the All-Decade team and a $100 million man.
What the heck else does he have to prove?
“I’m never satisfied,” Cox said. “I had a down year last year I would say. Coming off an injury and fighting through it all season. Now I’m 100 percent healthy and ready to roll. I’m excited about it and ready to go out there. This is the first year I’ve been able to go through a training camp in a while. Last year, I didn’t go through training camp because of the injury."
That’s true. Even though Cox was still dominant at times in 2019, he wasn’t himself. He played all 16 games but he finished with just 3 1/2 sacks, his lowest total since 2013. He also saw a drop-off in tackles, tackles for loss and quarterback hits.
Cox was still good. But he wasn’t himself as he came back from surgery for an injury he suffered in the playoff loss to the Saints. He missed pretty much all spring and summer last year as he rehabbed. He didn’t look like the guy who had 10 1/2 sacks and made his first All-Pro team in 2018.
This year, Cox is healthy. While Javon Hargrave missed all of training camp, Cox practiced all summer and formed an impressive defensive tackle rotation with Malik Jackson and Hassan Ridgeway. And eventually, Hargrave will return.
But Cox is still the Eagles’ best and highest-paid player. And he’s way healthier now than he was this time last year.
“I feel good,” Cox said. “Got a chance to go out there and bang around a little bit. Put the pads on. Instead of going into game week with only a couple of days of playing at game speed. I’m ready to roll.”