Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Return of the Ax Man

It looks like the Eagles are partying like it's 1999 2000 2001 2004 2005. That's right, Jeremiah Trotter, former Pro Bowl middle linebacker for the Eagles last seen not playing in Tampa Bay in 2007, is a Philadelphia Eagle once more.

This adds yet another bizarre twist to an already odd 2009 Eagles season. Between the enigma that is Shawn Andrews, the unexpected signing of Mike Vick, the death of Jim Johnson, and yet another injury to Donovan McNabb, it's been a whirlwind for the Birds and us fans in a short period of time. Now this.

I gotta say, much like the Vick signing, I'm completely baffled by this one. I understand the Eagles aren't thrilled with their linebackers, especially in the middle with the injury to Stewart Bradley, but bringing back Trotter? Really? Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't this the same Jeremiah Trotter with chronic knee problems? The same Trotter who was too slow and too much of a liability in pass coverage in 2006 that the Eagles let him loose after the season? The same Trotter who couldn't even get on the field except for three games for an awful Tampa Bay Buccaneers team in 2007? Call me a skeptic, but I don't see how this guy can possibly play now, three years after the Eagles last cut him loose, when he was too slow and too worn down to play then.

Now, I'm not saying I'm upset with the signing or don't want this work. Far from it. I'm a huge Jeremiah Trotter fan. Always have been, always will be. When the Eagles refused to give him the money he wanted in 2002 after two Pro Bowls at the age of 25/26, I was furious. When he came back, I was thrilled. But come on, more than three years after he was a truly impactful player you bring him back, after he was out of football last season and might as well have been the year before? Seems suspect to me.

I guess the guy really impressed the Eagles with those two workouts. And evidently, he feels better physically than he has in years. Yeah, a year-plus off from football will do that for your body.

But Trotter told the Daily News it went "two to three times better" than last week's initial workout, in which Reid said Trotter seemed more agile than he was when the Birds released him, 25 months ago.

Trotter, a four-time Pro Bowl linebacker for the Eagles, arrived as a third-round draftee in 1998, then left early in 2002 to sign with the Washington Redskins as a free agent after a nasty salary dispute. He returned in 2004 and helped the team get to the Super Bowl. After being released again in 2007, he signed with Tampa Bay but played in only three games that season and hasn't been on an NFL roster since.
However, Trotter is just 32, and he said last night that arthroscopic knee surgery in 2008 restored lost mobility. "To say my knee is better is an understatement," he said.

Sort of makes you wonder why he didn't get the surgery earlier if it made him more agile than before. Again, I remain skeptical and won't expect much from Trotter, though the guy has proven he'll do whatever it takes to help the team win, whether that means blowing up the run as the middle linebacker or as a special teamer. But after a strong performance by Omar Gaither Sunday, albeit against the atrocious Chiefs, I don't really see the immediate need. Then again, there really is no downside to the signing. If it doesn't work out, so what? And if it does, all the better.

Plus, Trot's presence in the locker room, especially with Brian Dawkins now residing in Denver, couldn't hurt. Welcome back, Trot. Hope you still got something in the tank.

BallHype: hype it up!

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