Head coach Doug Pederson acknowledged in a Tuesday conference call with the Philadelphia media the news that broke on Monday night: Pro Bowl right guard Brandon Brooks suffered a torn left Achilles tendon during the team's virtual offseason workout program and the Eagles have a big, big void to fill in the offensive line.
"My heart sunk when I got the news about Brandon's injury," Pederson said. "This guy has worked extremely hard to get himself back, back in shape, back in playing shape, to have a solid 2020 season. Obviously, we feel for him having to go through this again but we know that he'll push through and he's done a great job with all of this rehab and getting himself back, so we're very confident there.
"As far as the plan moving forward, at this point we're still looking at a lot of options, starting with our own roster and the guys that we have to compete for those backup spots and possibly starting spots. We obviously haven't made any decisions. We're going to take a look at a lot of different scenarios, different possibilities. We've got some time before Training Camp to try to sort these things out. At this time, we're just feeling for Brandon and making sure everything goes smoothly for him and getting him back on track for the future."
Brooks was rehabbing from a shoulder injury suffered in the 2019 Week 17 victory over the New York Giants. A season earlier, in the playoffs in 2018, Brooks suffered a torn right Achilles tendon injury, but came back strong and played 90 percent of the offensive snaps during the regular season, earning Pro Bowl honors for a third-consecutive year. His shoulder injury suffered against the Giants knocked him out for the remainder of that game and the postseason loss to Seattle. Brooks reportedly suffered this Achilles injury running during his rehab work at the NovaCare Complex.
And while the initial reaction from the Eagles is feeling for Brooks, who signed a four-year contract extension through 2024 last November, the team knows that in the big picture the injury is a significant blow to an offensive line regarded as good as any in the NFL. Brooks and right tackle Lane Johnson are the best right-side tandem in the league. Without Brooks, the Eagles need to come up with an answer.
That it happened now, rather than in the midst of the season, gives the Eagles a chance to, as Pederson said on Tuesday, "look at a lot of options." Those options include inserting Matt Pryor into the starting lineup on a full-time basis after Pryor replaced Brooks in a Week 12 loss to Seattle (Pryor played 43 snaps), then finished up in the Week 17 win at the Giants (35 snaps), and played all 79 offensive snaps in the postseason loss to Seattle. Pryor enters his third season after the Eagles selected him in the sixth round of the 2018 NFL Draft. At 6-feet-7, 332 pounds, Pryor has the bulk to play with power inside. He has to demonstrate that he has the athleticism and explosiveness to replace Brooks adequately on a long-term basis.
The Eagles also have some other younger talent to look at once the team returns to the NovaCare Complex field, including second-year men Nate Herbig and Sua Opeta, both of whom were signed in the post-draft period in 2019. The team can also take a look at draft pick Jack Driscoll, who potentially could play both tackle and guard, as the Eagles like to have position versatility with their offensive linemen.
It's only June and the Eagles have, in a silver-lining kind of way, some time on their side here. Led by coach Jeff Stoutland, the team has overcome plenty of injury challenges in recent seasons to have success at the line of scrimmage regularly. But there is no doubt that losing Brooks is a blow and one the Eagles need to absorb and recover from to have the offense operate with the efficiency desired in 2020.