All smiles. Laughing. So glad to be back on the football field. Looking forward to the postseason. Defensive end Josh Sweat is all of those things and much more now that he's back at the NovaCare Complex, healthy, and very appreciative of the fact that he's on the practice field again after missing some time following the neck injury he suffered in the first quarter of the game against New Orleans on January 1.
"Shoot, it was nice. I was dying to get back out there," Sweat said on Thursday afternoon. "I only got to do a bit of 'indy' (individual portion of practice), but we're just building back into it. I should be good, though. It felt great, though. Good to be out there with the guys."
When asked if he would be ready for the playoffs next weekend, Sweat left no doubt.
"Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, I'll be out there. Shoot, I feel like I can go now, but they're just trying to work me back into it a little slower. But I feel great. I'll definitely be out there," he said.
That's great for the defense, as Sweat followed up his Pro Bowl 2021 season with an even better performance in 2022. Sweat set career bests in quarterback sacks (11), quarterback pressures (47), total tackles (48), and tackles for loss (15). He scored his first NFL touchdown when he returned an interception against quarterback Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys 42 yards for a touchdown on Christmas Eve.
All of those numbers were terrific, and Sweat's consistency and explosiveness hit peak performance in his 16 games played. But early in the game against New Orleans, Sweat suffered a neck injury when making a tackle and he stayed down on the ground for several moments as concerned coaches and teammates rushed to his side to show him support. Sweat was strapped to a stretcher and carted off the field, and as the cart exited the field Sweat gave a "thumbs up" to the hushed crowd at Lincoln Financial Field.
Sweat was taken to a local hospital and it was announced shortly thereafter that he had movement in all extremities.
"Physically, I was good after a couple of minutes, but emotionally, I wanted to be out there. That's all I cared about," Sweat said. "That was the hard part for me, missing that game and the next one (against the New York Giants), knowing that I could have been part of the fun that was going on, that I could be around everybody.
"I'm good now, though. I've moved past it and I'm excited for what's to come."
Sweat said he will "play like I play" and that he felt good on the field "after about five seconds" when he regained his senses. He said the injury felt like "a stinger everywhere" and that he didn't move because he wanted the medical people do their job and he is grateful for their excellent care.
"All things considered, I realize how much people care around here and how well they do their jobs," Sweat said. "I'm just now looking forward to being part of this in the playoffs."