Ready to Return Avonte Maddox Revisits Scare
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - It was the longest 20 seconds of Avonte Maddox's young life.
The second-year cornerback has just taken some friendly fire from a heat-seeking missile by the name of Andrew Sendejo and was motionless on the turf of Green Bay’s Lambeau Field. All Maddox could do was wait for the training staff as the seconds ticked ever so slowly.
“Once I hit the ground, I was kind of stuck a little bit,” admitted Maddox, who returned to the practice field as a full participant on Wednesday at the NovaCare Complex.
Once the trainers reached Maddox, the first step was reassurance, quickly followed by positive reinforcement. By the time Maddox was strapped to a stretcher and taken into the locker room, the feeling was back and the worst-case scenario had been avoided.
“I never had an injury of that nature so [the trainers] were just keeping me calm,” Maddox explained. “Once I came [off the field], I was like, 'OK, I’m not paralyzed.' That’s when I started smiling.”
What could have been life-altering turned into a month-long absence with Maddox navigating through both the NFL's concussion protocol and a neck injury in a successful fashion. The return comes Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field when the Eagles host the Chicago Bears.
He will be the third starting CB in three weeks to return to Jim Schwartz's embattled secondary, joining Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby.
After the hit, Maddox was ultimately taken to a Green Bay hospital as a precaution before returning home with the team after a 34-27 win, the Packers' only loss of the season to date. By that point, Maddox was more worried about his family and what they were going through.
“They were scared,” Maddox said. “... They don’t want anything bad to happen to me.”
Maddox himself hasn't shied away from the incident and has watched the replay a number of times.
“It looks a little brutal,” he assessed. “It was a good hit. You can’t fault [Sendejo] for that. He’s out there playing the same as I’m playing. I’m not mad at him. He was trying to make a play same way I’m trying to make a play. It’s just unfortunate it happened that way. I’m still walking and he’s still giving me my hugs so we good.”
The hugs were Maddox's imposed stipend for Sendejo, who felt terrible about injuring his own teammate.
“I told him he gotta hug me for five seconds before every practice and every game,” Maddox said.
As for the mental hurdle after such a scare, Maddox has already conquered that.
“I’m good,” the Pitt product said. “My dad always told me if you go out there and play scared, that’s when things happen to you, so I wouldn’t put myself back on the field if I feel I wasn’t 100 percent. I feel I’m 100 percent ready, so that’s something I don’t think about."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen