Last night at the Eagles' "Flight Night" fans saw Stewart Bradley limp off the field with an apparent knee injury. Turns out, the injury was serious. Bradley tore his ACL and will now miss the entire year.
Bradley has a torn anterior cruciate ligament that will end his season, his agent, Eric Metz, confirmed to the Daily News' Les Bowen. Metz said the injury is a "complete tear." Metz said they are examining their options as to who will perform the surgery.
"Stew seems to be handling it well," Metz said. "He's a mature, tough kid."
Obviously this is a tremendous blow to the Eagles defense. Bradley is coming off a very good first year as a starter and looked to be one of the real emerging stars on this Eagles defense.
One can't help but wonder whether this injury was more, less, or just as likely to happen up at Lehigh as it was during this "Flight Night" thing where the Eagles practiced in front of 30k fans at the Linc... It's a question I hope someone asks of Andy Reid.
Find out why all is not lost at the middle LB position, and see video of the injury after the jump.
Middle linebacker happens to one of the positions on the defense where there is experienced, veteran depth. Omar Gaither started and played well at the MIKE on this team for an entire season. In fact, I think most would agree that he was better at MIKE in 2007 than he was at WILL last year. It's always a blow to lose a starter, but at least the Eagles won't be relying on a rookie or inexperienced player to step in here. Gaither knows the defense, he has experience as the primary signal caller, and he's started at the position in the NFL. The other guy int he mix will be 2nd year man Joe Mays.
The other reason for optimism was something that I noted back in the position preview of the defensive tackles. Mike Patterson and Brodrick Bunkley really did a lot to keep blockers off the linebackers, which freed up Bradley to make plays. This is not to take anything away from Bradley, but I think Omar might find that he has more room and freedom to move around than he did when he started at the MIKE back in 2007.
All that said, I don't want to appear like I'm sugar coating this too much. This is a big loss. Bradley was an important part of what made the Eagles defense so good last year. There's a reason he won that MIKE job last year and there's a reason certain major publications were calling him an all pro... The Eagles' D isn't quite as strong as it was up the middle today as it was yesterday and the depth becomes that much more thin.