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Bradley's Return Pivotal For Defense

JACKSONVILLE-- After a week's hiatus caused by the concussion he suffered in Week 1 against the Green Bay Packers, Stewart Bradley got back on the field Sunday night and helped lead a dominant defensive effort as the team yielded only three points and less than 200 yards of offense.

It was a big hurdle for Bradley, who hadn't played a full regular season game since the end of the 2008 season.

"I was happy to be out there," Bradley said after the game. "Since we've been going in camp, I've felt pretty good out there. For the small amount that I was playing in the first game, I felt that we did a good job."

After surrendering 32 points in Detroit last week and letting running back Jahvid Best go wild for over 200 yards of offense, the middle of the defense rebounded, holding Maurice Jones-Drew to 88 yards on 22 rushes (4.0 yards per carry), thanks, in part, to the return of Bradley.

"I thought the defense as a whole played a great game, the D line especially played a great game, created a lot of pressure," Bradley said. "The secondary did a good job in coverage. It was definitely a whole defensive effort out there for sure."

"(Bradley's return) is a big factor from a leadership standpoint for our overall defense," said defensive coordinator Sean McDermott. "You have to love having Stew back in the middle, but he's not the only guy playing, let's keep that in mind."

There was an interesting twist to the middle linebacker position, as Omar Gaither, last week's starter in place of Bradley, was among the eight inactive players. That meant that, according to McDermott, rookie seventh-round pick Jamar Chaney would have played middle linebacker if Bradley had been out at any point.

Still, the return of Bradley was key. In six quarters with Bradley at middle linebacker, the Eagles have allowed only 16 points. In the six quarters where Bradley was not on the field, the defense has allowed 46 points. It's too simplistic, of course, to say that Bradley is the sole reason for that disparity, but there's little question that his presence makes the defense more formidable. So getting through his first full game of the season is a great sign moving forward for both Bradley and the defense as a whole.

-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 10:32 p.m., September 26

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