Fletcher Cox is Back in Philly, Set to Join Eagles’ OTAs
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Fletcher Cox is back in the Philadelphia area and expected to be at the Eagles' second round of OTAs set to begin on Tuesday.
The veteran defensive tackle was among three entrenched veterans (Jason Peters and Donnie Jones) who missed last week's three voluntary practices, which are not necessarily all that important for them but it did raise some eyebrows in Cox's case because he is coming off a massive extension last year which guaranteed him over $60 million.
“Obviously, as you guys know, too, it’s a voluntary offseason program,” coach Doug Pederson explained when addressing the absences. “I’ve been in touch with all three of those guys and we’ve communicated for the reasons for them not being here. But [there are] no worries with them going forward.”
With Beau Allen also unavailable due to a pec injury and rookie sixth-round pick Elijah Qualls back at the University of Washington due to its quarters system, second-year defensive tackle Destiny Vaeao ran with the first-team defensive line in the absence of Cox, next to offseason pickup Tim Jernigan.
The backups inside were undrafted rookie Winston Craig and futures signing Justin Hamilton.
Cox was expected back this week and that looks to be the case as the two-time Pro Bowl selection took to Snapchat to reveal he was back in town as captured by Bleeding Green Nation's Brandon Lee Gowton.
There is likely no subterfuge to this story at all, just a disconnect to Cox's responsibilities now that he's being paid like he is.
The Eagles want him to be a leader and in town for OTAa, if only to send a message to the younger players on how to be a professional. On the other hand, Cox took the collective bargaining agreement literally and felt he had some wiggle room on when to show up.
“The reason is satisfactory,” Pederson said when pressed on Cox’s absence. “Again, it’s a voluntary program. 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.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen