Do Eagles Have a Leg Up on Burress?

Do Eagles Have a Leg Up on Burress?

The big story in Birds-land over the weekend actually came out of New York on Saturday. Gary Myers wrote a feature for the New York Daily News about currently incarcerated, former-Giants WR Plaxico Burress, and his impending release from prison. Burress has been out of football since November '08 after accidentally shooting himself in the leg at a nightclub, but he is eyeing a return to the gridiron this year.

Which wasn't exactly news--Burress has always maintained he would play again. The interesting part, according to Myers' article, is whenever the 6-5, 232 lbs. wide receiver begins selling his services, the Eagles supposedly will be "first in line" to see what he's all about.

Let's face it, much of this idea is predicated on the Michael Vick signing in '09, and Myers makes no bones about it.

"Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and coach Andy Reid, having already been through the post-prison experience with Vick, might be in a better position to handle any public backlash about adding another former inmate. They could also help Burress with his transition back to the NFL."

Personally, I find the assertion that because Vick has been a success story, the Eagles are suddenly lining up to sign ex-convicts is thin at best, and really quite ridiculous.

Vick's was a unique situation. He had Donovan McNabb lobbying for him, and here for a season to act as a mentor. More important, the front office was willing to take a chance in part because, at age 29, Vick still had upside. He's the starting quarterback now, but many observers thought the franchise would attempt to rehab his image for one season before attempting a trade. However, there surprisingly was no market last off-season, and the rest is history.

Plaxico's only upside is he may have a season or two of quality ball left, which is reason enough for management to perform their due dilligence. Look at it from the team's standpoint though. The Eagles don't need another wide receiver, and turning 34 years old this August, Burress has no future trade value. Not only that, his arrival means one less roster spot for a younger player, and he could potentially block a prospect such as Riley Cooper from seeing meaningful playing time.

Which is not to say I'm entirely against the possibility of adding Burress. He was one of the true difference makers at receiver right up until and through his final injury-plagued season. He caught 22 touchdown passes between 06-07, and has four 1,000 yard seasons in his nine year NFL career. The numbers don't even entirely do Burress justice, as his size created difficult match-up problems for defenses on a weekly basis.

With the Eagles, I could see him playing a small role, particularly inside the red zone where bigger targets become even greater assets in the passing game. Where else can you really see him having an impact though? DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin obviously aren't coming off the field very much, and Jason Avant has been one of the club's most reliable receivers from the slot.

In the end, the only way this works is if a number of egos could be kept in check, first and foremost being Plaxico's. Would Burress accept a reduced role, and presumably less money, while he worked his way back into the league?

Because much of the premise is based on the Vick and Burress situations being somehow similar, when they are not really at all. Vick was far more untouchable coming out of prison. Besides the horrific nature of a criminal past that inflamed activists, he was seen as an athlete who never took his profession seriously. With the exception of the part where Burress shoots himself, which is almost humorous anyway, football fans have long since been desensitized to athletes who own weapons.

The list of teams who are willing to take a shot at Plaxico (get it?) will be slightly longer than those who would merely consider bringing Vick into the fold two years ago, and certainly more receiver-needy. The Eagles have surprised plenty of times before, so you can never rule it out completely, but it's difficult to envision them as one of the first into the fray here, as the report suggests.

>> Former Giants WR Plaxico Burress out of lockup on June 6 [NY Daily News]

Union emotional after Maurice Edu's season-ending injury

USA Today Images

Union emotional after Maurice Edu's season-ending injury

CHESTER, Pa. — On the eve of his comeback after missing nearly 13 months with a left tibia stress fracture and other related injuries, Union midfielder Maurice Edu fractured his left fibula on Saturday, keeping him out for the 2016 playoffs and beyond.

“I was trying to take the shot on goal and my foot got stuck in the turf,” Edu said Sunday, in his blue Union-issued suit and supported by crutches. “My ankle rolled and twisted and it kind of snapped a little bit. I heard it crack, and a lot of pain from there. I got a scan afterward, and there was a break.”

There's no timetable his return.

Edu, 30, has spent over a calendar year fighting various injuries that have kept him out of game action. His trouble began on Sept. 30, 2015, when he played through the U.S. Open Cup final with a partially torn groin and sports hernia. It was during Edu’s recovery from those injuries that he developed a stress fracture.

"A little bit frustration. A lot of frustration, to be honest," he said. "But all I can do now is get back to work, focus on the positives and make sure that my situation isn’t a distraction from the team."

Edu’s teammates were equally devastated by the news. Edu, the Union captain when healthy, is popular and well-respected in the locker room.

"I feel so bad for him," said Alejandro Bedoya, who wore a dedication to Edu under his jersey on Sunday. "He’s one of my good friends, so I was looking forward to playing alongside him. I know how hard he’s worked to get back, and to see him go out like that, it’s heartbreaking. I’m sad for his loss and I hope he stays strong."

Edu, who has been with the Union since 2014, returned to training in July and played three conditioning appearances with the Union’s USL team, Bethlehem Steel FC. He was on the bench for the Union’s last three games and was set to make his first appearance in over a year against the New York Red Bulls on Sunday, a game the Union eventually lost, 2-0 (see game story).

"We’re gutted for Mo," Union manager Jim Curtin said. "He was slated to start today. It’s real upsetting because he’s worked so hard to get back on the field. It’s been a tough 2016 for him, but I know he’ll come back stronger."

While he was visibly shaken by recent injury, Edu is driven to return.

"What happened, happened," Edu said. "I have no control over that. The only thing I do have control over is my next steps from here, how I prepare myself mentally and emotionally and how I continue to support this group."

Sixers 'all over the place' different without Ben Simmons

Sixers 'all over the place' different without Ben Simmons

CAMDEN, N.J. — It has been over three weeks since Ben Simmons suffered an acute Jones fracture in his right foot during the final scrimmage of training camp. The Sixers had constructed schemes around the rookie point-forward and watched unconventional lineups play out at Stockton University.

Those “can’t-wait-to-see” situations have been delayed to “wait-and-see” as Simmons recovers.

“Where do you begin?” Brett Brown said after practice Sunday. “I could talk for three days on what’s different without Ben Simmons. It’s all-over-the-place different. The core values of how you want to do different things there remain the same, but the whole landscape changed.”

This week was supposed to be the debut of a new-look system featuring a player who could influence the game with his versatility and athleticism. Brown even had experimented with pairing Simmons and Dario Saric at the two and three positions. Instead, the Sixers once again will start a regular season shorthanded by injuries.

Simmons was projected to start at power forward and also handle point responsibilities. His multitasking lessened the need for the Sixers to find a standout point guard this summer. They signed veteran Jerryd Bayless and Sergio Rodriguez, who is returning to the NBA for his second stint.

Bayless was expected to start, with the intention of Simmons running the floor at times. Now, neither can play. Bayless has been sidelined by a ligament injury in his left wrist. The Sixers announced on Friday that Bayless will have a non-surgical rehab and will be reevaluated in two weeks.

Brown on Sunday was undecided on whether Rodriguez or second-year point guard T.J. McConnell would start at the one on opening night.

“He was going to be one of the primary ballhandlers,” Brown said of Simmons. “And with that, floor spots and spacing and how you actually set this thing up changes dramatically.”

The players also have noticed a change without Simmons in the backcourt. Joel Embiid, playing his first season after missing the past two with foot injuries, found himself struggling with his shot selection early on in the preseason. He got glimpses in camp of how Simmons could improve that.

“He’s such a big presence and he’s really important to us,” Embiid said. “He just makes plays. I’ve been rushing shots and that’s where it comes in play. Someone like him can help me get better shots because he can get me easy baskets.”

Simmons’ absence also fast-forwarded Saric’s transition in his first NBA season. The injuries to Simmons and Jahlil Okafor (right knee) have pushed Saric into the starting power forward role during the preseason. The rookie has been learning on the go in a new league.

“He has been thrown into the fire,” Brown said of Saric last week (see story).

Simmons recently went through a two-week, post-operative exam and had sutures removed. He is working on day-to-day rehab with the Sixers' staff while also spending time talking with Brown. The team is implementing a multi-faceted recovery program of education, health and shot improvement.

This includes meeting with Brown to break down his game — where it is now and where it can develop in the future. Brown wants to make sure Simmons knows the ins and outs of the system so he is best prepared to begin his rookie season once cleared to play.

“I think that part of my excitement is I get with Ben every day while we’re here and go into my office for half-an-hour and it’s like basketball-NBA 101,” Brown said.

That’s one aspect of Simmons’ injury for which Brown can prepare.