PHILADELPHIA ( - The big man was back in the middle of the Eagles' defensive line on Tuesday as Pro Bowl tackle Fletcher Cox returned after missing three days of on-field OTAs last week due to a family matter.

Although the sessions are voluntary, Cox's absence was a bit of a surprise because the veteran signed a massive $103 extension last year that guaranteed him $63 million and all the expectations that entails.

Doug Pederson explained that last week when discussing Cox and his decision to miss a week.

"It’s a voluntary program," the coach said. "I would love for everybody to be here. That’s just me, personally. I would love everybody to be here. I know it’s not always going to work out that way. But, you know, Fletcher’s one of the leaders on the football team. Guys like that, you do expect to be here. I get the rules. We abide by the rules. He’s one of the guys, too, that at the end of the day, I’m going to hang my hat on and go to war with.”

At his locker after a rainy practice Tuesday, Cox explained he had a family event scheduled that meant a lot to him.

“I know it’s very important that I’m here,” he acknowledged. "(But), my family’s important to me. It was just one of those deals where I know football is important. ...It was a time where my whole family could take off work and it was time I could spend with them. That’s important. Football and family are important to me.”

Cox is also well aware that his contract means more is expected of him that most of his teammates.

“The contract I got last year, the team expects [leadership] from me,” Cox admitted. “They know what type of guy I am, I know what type of guy I am. I get a bunch of respect from guys in this locker room.”

Pederson and defensive line coach Chris Wilson were aware that Cox would me missing last week well in advance and Pederson called Cox's reason "satisfactory" but probably could have alleviated a little of this acrimony by explaining Cox has asked for the week off for a family matter.

Cox was in attendance at the offseason program before his one-week exit and will finish it by attending all the voluntary activities moving forward.

“I’m here today. I think that’s what’s important,” Cox said. “If I wasn’t here today, maybe a lot of guys would question it. But I’m here today."

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

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