The Eagles suffered a serious scare at training camp Wednesday when defensive tackle Mike Patterson collapsed during the morning practice. In addition to losing consciousness, Patterson suffered a seizure and was taken off the field in an ambulance. Head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder revealed on Thursday that the seizure was a result of a rare congenital condition called brain arteriovenous malformation (AVM), where there is a tangle of blood vessels right outside the brain.
Patterson's injury greatly affected a number of his teammates, particularly those who have played with him for a number of years.
Defensive ends Juqua Parker and Trent Cole are the only two defensive linemen who have been with Patterson since 2005. Parker declined to comment on Patterson's situation, stating that he would get too emotional talking.
Cole, on the other hand, said that he and Patterson were the only friends each other had when they came to the team as part of the 2005 draft class. It was different for him without Patterson on the field in Thursday's practices.
"We're professionals," Cole said. "There have always been situations like this. Something always comes up. But that's the job we do here. We're professionals and we work through stuff."
Free agent acquisition Cullen Jenkins said he just met Patterson after he signed with the Eagles. He said that as difficult as it was for him watching Patterson's seizure, he can't imagine what it was like for those who have played with Patterson for years. He stressed the ability to stay focused as the key for putting such an incident in the past.
"It's something that still stays on your mind," Jenkins said. "You still think about it, obviously, for good reason. It's a scary moment. You still know what your job is. You still know that you have to come out here and stay focused, and do your job when you get here."
The loss of Patterson left the Eagles with just one defensive tackle who has been healthy and with the team since the start of training camp - rookie free agent Cedric Thornton, who has worked with both the first and second teams on defense.
"It's real tiring but you just gotta keep pushing," Thornton said. "You only get one shot so you just gotta take advantage. I'm ahead of the game. I know my plays. I'm just trying to take advantage of every opportunity."
In addition to Patterson's condition, former first-round pick Brodrick Bunkley was traded to the Denver Broncos, Trevor Laws has a hip flexor sprain, Antonio Dixon left Thursday's practice with a mild sprain of his left knee, and Victor Abiamiri suffered a ruptured Achilles tendon. Even free agent signings Cullen Jenkins, Anthony Hargrove and Derek Landri were sidelined as they waited for the new CBA to be officially ratified. All of the team's free agents can practice for the first time Friday at 8:05 AM.
The team added a pair of rookie free agents on Thursday, Brandon Collier and Charles Noonan, and both practiced despite not being familiar with the team's defense.
Noonan actually received a call from the Eagles on Wednesday afternoon and rushed to Lehigh University in the evening. A lifelong Eagles fan, Noonan is anxious for the opportunity to contribute, even if his stint may just be for a few days.
"I'm going to try and obviously play as best as I can, control what I can control," Noonan said. "There's always going to be an opportunity and someone to fill in."
Patterson's future on the field is the last thing on the mind of any of the Eagles' players. Right now, the health and safety of one of the longest-tenured members of the Eagles is paramount.
Make sure to follow us on Twitter @EaglesInsider