When the Eagles announced that linebacker Jamar Chaney had undergone surgery on his neck to repair a herniated disk, many Eagles fans were concerned about Chaney's future. At linebacker, a position where the charge of tackling is foremost, a neck issue could potentially be prohibitive. But that's not the case for the only Eagles linebacker to start all 16 games in 2011.
"I didn't have to have (the surgery)," Chaney assured Eagles fans when he joined PhiladelphiaEagles.com in the studio. "It was just something I wanted to have to prevent it from happening again. They fused my neck. It's coming along pretty good now. By the end of this month, maybe next month, I should be back to myself 100 percent. I feel pretty good now, working out, squatting, bench pressing, doing the normal stuff I would be doing in the offseason.
"I think I made the right decision to have the surgery because as long as we have this off time, it's worth it. As long as I was going to be back for when we come back for workouts and right before we go to minicamps and OTAs and all that, I wanted to participate in all of that. They told me the timetable would be mid-March so I went ahead and did it."
While Chaney has been rehabbing at the NovaCare Complex, the biggest offseason story on his side of the line of scrimmage is the return of defensive coordinator Juan Castillo. Chaney said that he and his teammates weren't surprised at all that Castillo would once again be running the defense.
"We're happy he's back because we went through a change last year with a new defensive coordinator, and it takes time to learn the scheme," Chaney said. "This organization, I don't think they're trying to build for the future. We're trying to win right now, so the best thing is for Juan to come back because we already know the scheme... having a whole offseason to polish up everything, to do new things with (Castillo) and talk to him throughout the offseason, that's going to put us ahead of the 8-ball come training camp."
Chaney, the first Eagles linebacker over the last three seasons to start all 16 games, particularly hangs his hat on the improved performance of the defense toward the tail end of the season, when the Eagles closed with a four-game winning streak.
"I think we looked pretty good at the end of the season," he said. "One thing about us is I think every week we improved. There wasn't one week where I think we regressed after those first couple games, and that's what you want to do, especially with a young group."
Even though Chaney is entering his third season in the league, this will be his first full offseason to work in the Eagles' system. Because of the last offseason's work stoppage, neither last year's draft class nor the 2010 draft class was able to learn the new scheme until training camp.
"For us to go through a whole offseason with Juan, (linebackers coach Mike) Caldwell and all the coaches teaching us about the scheme, it's going to help us out," said Chaney. "You keep that core group together, you get that bond with each other. We're all close, we talk to each other, so I think it's a good thing."