For a player who suffered through a high school career marred by injury, who had to walk on to play collegiate football, who became a first-round draft pick only to initially play a position that didn't take into account his skill set, to think that player would allow a thumb injury to threaten what he does on the football field, well then, you just aren't taking into account everything that is Haason Reddick.
In his second season with the Eagles and in his seventh year in the NFL, Reddick underwent surgery on his right thumb on August 17 to repair a ligament injury. He had the surgery for the express reason that doing so would allow him to return for the September 10 regular-season opener at New England.
And so, Reddick met the media on Monday at the NovaCare Complex and said he's going to be fine, that he will wear some kind of protective device on the thumb/hand and that he is going to be prepared to play as he's always played when the lights go on for the regular season.
"It's progressing really well," Reddick said when asked how his thumb is "progressing." "The progression has been going really well."
Will he be ready for the Patriots?
"I do expect to (play), yeah," Reddick said.
Reddick expects to take some live reps in practice "over the next couple of days" to really find out how the thumb feels when he's in the heat of the moment, when he's using his hands to control a blocker or to take down a quarterback or make a play on a running back coming his way.
It's important, obviously, that the Eagles have Reddick ready. He was a force last season with 16 quarterback sacks and 62 quarterback pressures in the regular season, a performance that earned him second-team All-Pro recognition and Pro Bowl honors for the first time. In his two previous seasons – with Arizona in 2020 and Carolina in 2021 – Reddick had reached double digits in sacks, but 2022 was a true breakout season.
The league recognized what a difference-making edge rusher Reddick was as he led the Eagles to a collective 70 quarterback sacks, a No. 1 ranking in pass defense, and a Super Bowl LVII appearance.
Now it's a new year and a new challenge, starting with a scheme led by new coordinator Sean Desai. Reddick wouldn't divulge any differences with this defense from the one Jonathan Gannon had in place the two previous seasons, so we will all learn together, beginning against the Patriots.
In the meantime, the Eagles and Reddick are going to use all of their time until then making sure they are ready for another long, winning journey.
"I feel good. I feel I'm in shape physically. I've been running around since I came back from the surgery," Reddick said. "It's just going to be about adapting now.
"I do like the scheme. He (Desai) is doing some things differently than Gannon did, I'll say that. We'll get out there. I ain't giving away nothing. Everyone will get to see once we start putting it on tape. The season is almost here. We've got a couple more weeks and then we'll get out there and everybody will see the difference."
To be great in this game, you have to adapt and adjust and Reddick has been doing it his entire career, starting from the time nobody paid a whole lot of attention to his game. Now that he's in the NFL, he knows everyone is watching. The approach doesn't change.
Adapt. Adjust. And go out and win on gamedays and be a difference-making player. That's the plan for Reddick in his second season as an Eagle.