More than anything that he has ever done in his NFL career, Paul Worrilow wants to contribute to winning with the Philadelphia Eagles. It's why he made up his mind, day after day after day as he rehabbed a devastating knee injury suffered on the first day of Organized Team Activities on the field, that he would come back to the Eagles for 2019 if they would have him back.
Well, they wanted him back.
And he's back.
"I love the Birds," said Worrilow, a University of Delaware product and a Delaware native and resident, on Wednesday night after agreeing to terms on a one-year deal for 2019. "It's where I want to be. The way they treat the players, they way they make the players feel part of the team even when they're hurt, like I was, it's special. I've been around teams where, if you're hurt, you're hurt. For me this season, the team did everything possible to make sure I felt like I was part of the team and helping out."
Worrilow signed with the Eagles as an unrestricted free agent last spring expected to add depth across the board at linebacker with a chance to earn playing time. He was a regular in the offseason conditioning program and through the early portion of OTAs. Then the Eagles moved into the on-field portion of the offseason and on May 22, Worilow collided with linebacker Corey Nelson as the Eagles practiced indoors at the NovaCare Complex and Worrilow went down.
As it turned out, he went down for the season with a serious knee injury.
"It was hard. It was tough, especially in the moment for sure," Worrilow said. "But I'm one of those guys who tries to live in the moment as much as I can. I was injured. They told me the extent of the injury. I was like, 'OK, what's next? How do I rehab this? Let's go.' And that's what I did. I tried to channel my competitiveness into everything I did. I can confidently say that this is the best shape I've been in, collectively, since I've been in the league. It's rare that you get this much time to train. Usually you play, get a little time off and then get back into the offseason training program. This is the best shape I've been in. I'm stronger now at this point than I was after my last season in Detroit by far.
"Honestly, I feel awesome. I feel the best I've ever felt at this point in the offseason. I'm looking forward to getting back out there and playing football again."
What that means as far as Worrilow's role remains to be seen. He was involved in meetings last year, he watched film as the Eagles prepared for games and he knows the defense from a mental standpoint. Getting down the X's and O's in his brain isn't going to be the challenge. Worrilow thinks the scheme is a great fit for his skill set and he'll try to work his way into the mix in a linebacker room that has some question marks with middle linebacker Jordan Hicks scheduled for unrestricted free agency in March.
Worrilow projects as a player who will compete on the weak side and at the middle linebacker position, as well as helping on special teams. He played five years with Atlanta and Detroit – Worrilow had 52 starts in 72 games with those two teams – before joining the Eagles. His debut season ended before it started.
Now is a chance to make up for some lost time.
"Sundays this year, I wasn't the best person to be around," he said. "I'm an edgy person sometimes, anyway, but I had a little something extra to me this year. I missed it so much. I missed being out there with the guys. I know this is where I want to play and as little as I did this year, I enjoy that locker room and I truly believe in the leadership of this organization. I'm not just saying that because I'm a part of the team. They live up to their reputation of the character of the Eagles, man, for what they do for people.
"I want to have an impact playing for this team. I want to make a positive impact for this team more than for any other team in the league. I bleed green. I'm so glad to be coming back. I'm excited to re-write this story a little bit."