Bradham Starts One-Week Exile, Cuts Begin
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - A lot of people take a little bit of time for themselves over Labor Day weekend.
For Nigel Bradham, he's got some of that time but it's the last thing the Eagles linebacker wants. Bradham is suspended for Week 1 of the NFL season due to a 2016 incident in which he was alleged to have assaulted a cabana boy at a Miami Beach hotel.
"It's unfortunate, number one," Eagles coach Doug Pederson said. "He understands. But the message is, hey, he's got to stay focused and he's got to stay ready. He's got to continue to work out for the next seven, eight days, whatever it is, and when he comes back, he's ready to go."
It could have been far worse for Bradham and the Eagles as an original six-game penalty was ultimately knocked down to one week during the appeals process. Bradham, though, is not allowed to have any contact with the team during his short exile.
"Just working out," Bradham said last week when asked what he planned to do during his unwanted vacation.
Whether the extra gym time is in Philadelphia or his native Sunshine State is not something Bradham would disclose but the veteran did indicate that he will be watching his teammates and potential replacements -- Kamu Grugier-Hill and Nate Gerry -- closely from afar even if it's going to be a little painful.
"It's going to be hard to watch it. It's going to be difficult," Bradham admitted.
The issue at LB in a significant one against the Falcons because Jim Schwartz will have to turn toward an untested option as one of his two, three-down options against a dynamic offense.
"Rather than just fitting in one spot, now there's multiple spots that we have to fit," Schwartz admitted. "We have confidence in a number of players. And I think that we're also set [so] that we can employ different matchups depending on how a game's going to be, what the matchups look like and how we think a game is going to play out.
"... We have a lot of different personnel packages. What skill set fits best in short yardage, what skill set fits best in third down, what one fits best in all these different things?"
Bradham has confidence in both players who could be the next man up.
"Both those guys have improved so much," he said.
Bradham will begin the season on the suspended list, meaning Philadelphia will get to keep an extra body on the 53-man roster when they whittle things down by 4:00 ET on Saturday.
That process began Friday with the names of some obvious cuts trickling out, including quarterbacks Christian Hackenberg and Joe Callahan, the Absecon native who attended Holy Spirit High School. Others informed that they will be waived include receiver Rashard Davis and tight ends Billy Brown and Gannon Sinclair.
CELEK OFFICIALLY RETIRES
Brent Celek, the well-liked tight end who spent his entire 11-year career with the Eagles, officially announced his retirement Friday morning.
The Eagles released Celek in March, a month after they won their first Super Bowl in team history. Celek had a few visits as a free agent but decided against signing with another team, something he explained in an open letter to Eagles fans posted on the team's website:
"[Retirement is] a big decision, but it’s not a tough one" Celek explained. "Though I know I’m still capable of playing football at a high level, and though I had offers to continue my NFL career, my heart told me that this was the time. The bottom line was this: When I thought long and hard about the prospect of putting on another uniform, it just seemed wrong. In the end, I couldn’t do it. My career began, and ended, with the Philadelphia Eagles - and man, did we go out in style."
Celek finished his NFL career with 398 receptions for 4,998 yards and 31 touchdowns in 175 regular-season games. His final game was the Eagles’ 41-33 victory over New England in Super Bowl LII.
“Brent Celek embodies everything it means to be a Philadelphia Eagle," owner Jeffrey Lurie said in a statement. He will obviously be remembered as one of the most accomplished tight ends in Eagles history, but his impact on our franchise goes far beyond the statistics he compiled over the course of his career. Brent was one of the toughest, smartest, and most selfless players who has ever stepped on the field for us."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen