That you don't know much about Paul Worrilow and haven't established any kind of relationship with him or expectations for him is understandable, but for anyone inside the NovaCare Complex who has gotten to know him, Monday was a special day.
Paul Worrilow walked off the practice field smiling. Consider it a small step for mankind and a huge step for Worrilow, who has battled every day like few do since suffering a torn ACL on the first day of the 2018 spring OTAs. Inclement weather that day forced the Eagles to move inside to their roofed practice facility. Worrilow went crashing to the ground after colliding with a teammate and then was carted off the field.
Season over. Much more than that, as it turned out.
"Oh, it's great for us and it's great for Paul, seeing him on the football field," linebackers coach Ken Flajole said on Monday when practice ended. "The untold story in all of this is that I don't think anybody on the outside of our building realizes how hard this guy has worked to come back from that knee injury he suffered a year ago. So, to see the work he's put in during the offseason to get back and to see him get out here and get some competitive reps, I'm just so happy for him.
"Nobody deserves it more than Paul. He's been the consummate pro with the way he's attacked his rehab. His enthusiasm to get back out here has been apparent and we're all so happy to see him on the field."
This isn't one of those Paul Worrilow-is-here-to-change-the-Eagles'-world stories. Frankly, there's no telling what's next for Worrilow. He's in a challenging spot to make this 53-man roster, not that it's ever stopped Worrilow from the time he entered the NFL in 2013 as an undrafted rookie and then became a starter in Atlanta for much of his four seasons there.
What the story is is one that speaks to a man's absolute love of the game of football, the dedication he's had to it since he first started playing, and how that dedication has allowed him to have a terrific NFL career, and now, how he's handling the most adversity he's ever been dealt.
"I'm not gonna stand here and lie to you and tell you that there haven't been down times. It's been tough, really tough," Worrilow said. "I just want to play football. That's what I'm doing here. That's what I love to do. If I didn't love it, I would have probably packed it up and gone home. But this is worth it to me, to keep pushing, to keep fighting, and carve out any opportunities I can find."
Worrilow, the Wilmington, Delaware native, University of Delaware product, and life-long Eagles fan, is taking this all step by step. At some point in his quest to make the 53-man roster, he's going to have to play in the preseason – "I'm going to have to. I know that. I'll just talk to the trainers and see where I'm at," he said.
At the moment, though, there is joy that Worrilow can practice and that there is no post-practice swelling in the knee. That's been his latest battle, and it's what has kept him out of action for most of this 2019 Training Camp. Worrilow practiced the first two days of camp and then had to back off because of the knee inflammation.
Monday was his second day back on the field, in uniform, since the early part of camp. He's itching for more.
"I'm trying to push it as far as I can every day," Worrilow said. "It's not hard to do when you're doing something you love. I'll continue pushing this and I'm going to beat it. For right now, it just feels great to be out on the field practicing. Hopefully, I'll get out there and play some real football very soon."
Worrilow isn't paying attention to the winding down of Training Camp or the preseason. He knows the Eagles, like every other NFL team, has to cut the roster from 90 players to 53 players on Saturday, August 31 at 4 p.m. That doesn't leave much time to impress, but that's not the point: The point is that for a man like Worrilow, who throws everything he has into his family and football, progress is progress, baby steps or not.
"I'm on the right track with everything we're doing, the treatments we're doing to combat the swelling, so I feel good about my chances to get out there and play," Worrilow said. "I'm just taking each day as it is. I understand that there are going to be days when I'm not going to feel good. Those days still have to be an area of growth for me, whether I'm in the film room studying or out here watching the defense. And when I am out here and have a chance to play, I have to take those and use them as ultimate opportunities.
"Right now, I'm glad to be back. That's my focus. I'm going to make the most of every one of these moments."