PHILADELPHIA ( - The Eagles had an opening locker room session for 45 minutes before the opening of their first mandatory minicamp practice Tuesday and the media waited, waited and waited a little bit more for the presumed Fletcher Cox sighting.

Only when it came time to close the door did Cox and veteran running back Darren Sproles appear to get ready for the practice.

Both players have missed all of the voluntary work this offseason with Cox wrangling for a lucrative, long-term extension and the 32-year-old Sproles preferring to spend time with his family in the West Coast, a decision he claimed the Eagles “were cool with.”

Cox, who is in the final year of his rookie deal, decided a statement would be the best way to tackle his absence from the voluntary sessions as he and his representation continue try to get something done.

“I’m happy to be back in Philadelphia to get back to work with my teammates and coaches. I’m excited for this upcoming season and I can’t wait to get on the field for mini-camp this week, learn our new defense, and do whatever I can to help our team win," Cox said in a statement disseminated by the Eagles' PR staff. "Any discussion about my absence from the offseason program or my contract will be handled privately between me, my agent and the Eagles organization.”

Both Cox and Sproles arrived at the NovaCare Complex for physicals on Monday and each player could have been fined $76,580 if they decided to skip the sessions this week.

Eagles coach Doug Pederson said both were happy to be back and excited to see their teammates but each would be brought along slowly because that's the smart thing to do.

"It was our decision as a staff," Pederson said of bringing his stars along slowly. "I talked with [defensive coordinator] Jim Schwartz and we put a plan in place for [Cox] and also [talked with offensive coordinator] Frank Reich [about a plan for] Darren Sproles and I made the decision that we want to just protect these guys at this time."


- There was no Cox in team drills so Mike Martin continued to run with the No. 1s at under tackle. Clearly both sides are being very cautious until the big deal gets done with Cox.

-Sproles on the other hand was immediately in the mix with the first team and Pederson didn't waste any time in showing off some plays to get his new toy into space.

-Jordan Matthews made a spectacular 20-yard catch or so over the middle when Sam Bradford unleashed a rare fastball with some real zip.

-Carson Wentz's play of the day was hitting undrafted rookie Hunter Sharp on what looked like a cover-2 package. Sharp beat Denzel Rice and Wentz deposited the football before safety Chris Maragos could get over with the help. Maragos, however, got some revenge later, however, intercepting Wentz on a weakly-thrown deep ball.

-Rookie DB Blake Countess made a real acrobatic play off a tipped ball by Josh Huff near the far sideline. He picked the ball but was out of bounds.

-Josh Andrews got a look with the second-team at center for the first time and had at least two bad snaps, one that was air-mailed back to Chase Daniel. In turn Stefen Wisniewski got his first looks at left guard.

-Chris Pantale continues to be the only fullback and is turning into a really versatile player with a good chance to make this roster.

-Jordan Hicks continues to deal with a quad spasm but did see split first-team work with Najee Goode at MLB.

-Rueben Randle was also back in the mix at WR after gallbaldder surgery while cornerbacks Nolan Carroll and JaCorey Shepherd are cleared but continued to be held out of team drills.

"He's cleared to do everything, but again, on a limited basis," Pederson said of Randle. "Same with [LB] Jordan Hicks [and the] guys I mentioned last week. The couple of guys that we have – [CB] Nolan Carroll, [CB] JaCorey Shepherd [are] guys that are cleared to practice, but we are going to be smart about it. Now is not the time. So we're going to limit their role this week, as well."

-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for You can reach him at or on Twitter @JFMcMullen