After missing the entire 2014 season with a torn ACL, linebacker Kiko Alonso was more than excited to get back onto the field in a new city, with a new team and under the coach he played for while at Oregon.
In fact, he admittedly may have been a little too excited when practicing at Lincoln Financial Field for the first time during Training Camp in July, as he sustained a concussion that kept him sidelined for the opening weeks of the preseason.
Now, Alonso is back and healthy, ready to contribute to the Eagles' defense. The linebacker no longer feels any effects from the injury. He is focused on getting up to speed with the scheme, competing and getting back to his 2013 form.
"I hit an offensive lineman, put my head down," Alonso explained when describing the play during which he was injured. "I probably shouldn't have done that. I got a little too excited."
Alonso ran straight into Malcom Bunche, a solid 6-foot-6, 320-pound rookie guard. It's safe to say the linebacker learned from the experience.
"He's a big boy," Alonso joked. "I probably won't use my head next time I hit him."
Instead of looking back and criticizing himself over the play, Alonso is moving forward. After a short time away from practice as he recovered, the linebacker is currently working to prepare himself for game action, which will most likely come this weekend in Green Bay.
Alonso was active during the team's preseason game against the Ravens taking part in warm-ups with the rest of the team, but he did not see the field at any point during the game.
Alonso wants nothing more than to get back to playing football so that he can show he is just as talented of a player as he was in his first season. As a rookie in 2013, the linebacker was named PFWA's Defensive Rookie of the Year. He recorded 159 tackles, the third highest in the NFL that season, and played in every single one of the Bills' 1,145 defensive snaps.
Due to a basic understanding and familiarity with Chip Kelly's defense having spent four years playing as a Duck, Alonso already feels comfortable with the system in place here in Philadelphia. He merely wants to continue practicing to ensure sure he is sharp come game time.
"I'm just trying to take a lot of reps, mental reps, whether I'm in or not," Alonso said. "I'm watching a lot of film, and trying to get myself ready."
Alonso's playing time in the game against Green Bay on Saturday remains in the hands of Kelly, but the linebacker feels confident and prepared to go head to head with Packers. Nevertheless, he will continue to work towards his goal throughout the entirety of the week.
"My goal," Alonso said, "is to play."