Guard Brandon Brooks just might give the Eagles' offensive line the help that it surely needs.
Brooks made his debut at Eagles Training Camp on Friday morning. He suffered a hamstring injury while preparing for the team's conditioning test. This offseason he signed a five-year contract to take over as a the starter at right guard.
Brooks felt good about his return and didn't expect any setbacks. Although he participated in prior team walk-throughs and position drills, Brooks saw some action in individuals and group installation on Friday.
"Feels good," Brooks said. "Wish I got here a little sooner, but injury prevented me from doing that."
After playing in just six games his rookie year, Brooks has started in every game he's played since. He had a productive four years with the Houston Texans, helping the team grab the second-most rushing yards in franchise history in 2014. Last year, the Eagles struggled defending their quarterbacks at times, allowing 37 total sacks. Brooks should help shore up the Eagles' offensive line alongside center Jason Kelce.
Brooks commented on the offensive line's chemistry as "pretty good right now" and that he's "not too worried about it." In fact, Brooks is excited to be back on the field with his teammates. The Wisconsin native doesn't think it will take himself long before he's back up to speed.
"From a mental standpoint, I know what I'm doing it's not a big deal, it's just conditioning and keep on hitting people every day and things of that nature," Brooks said. "Luckily for me, it's not like I'm necessarily a young guy, I'm more of a middle-of-the-road guy so you have to know what it takes."
Contrary to Eagles teams in the past, new head coach Doug Pederson has implemented a more physical style of practice which incorporates live tackling sessions. Pederson and Jim Schwartz, the team's new defensive coordinator, are looking to give the players a more realistic sense of game-like play. Brooks, however, is already acquainted with this style of practice, as both of the head coaches used it during his time in Houston.
"It's been good," Brooks said of the game-like practices. "It's kind of what it was like for me when I was under (Gary) Kubiak and when I was under (Bill) O'Brien. Live periods, tackling to the ground, guys getting after it, so that's what I expected when I came in."
Most importantly, Brooks is glad to be on the field again. The time away generated more hunger for him and considered the unwanted break to be "very frustrating."
"The biggest thing is when you're sitting in there watching guys out here and you're trying to ride the bike and run on the treadmill or something, wishing you were out there."
Brooks is used to being a staple out on the field. At Miami (Ohio) University, he started in 41 of the 45 games he played in and helped the RedHawks register 40 rushing touchdowns during his career. However, Brooks knows what it's like to have an injury derail him after missing his entire junior season due to injury. The fifth-year guard was definitely encouraged by his recovery and even admitted his pleasure in being suited up.
"At the same time we did have OTAs and built chemistry from there and had the playbook," he said. "But the pads were on for real this time so yeah, it feels good."
Pederson was excited to have Brooks back on board in addition to running back Ryan Mathews, who had been out with an ankle injury.
"It was good to see him and Ryan out here getting some individual work (and) some group install stuff," Pederson said. "We'll just kind of keep progressing with both of those guys."
As the Eagles continue to move further closer to the preseason, Brooks expects to receive a steady increase in his workload. With a little more time, he intends to keep "progressing each and every day."