In a bit of a surprising development, Eagles defensive tackle Mike Patterson returned to practice on Monday, and could be activated to the 53-man roster anytime in the next three weeks. Patterson was placed on the non-football injury list at the beginning of training camp following off-season brain surgery.
Patt had hoped to be ready for the beginning of the season, and wasn't experiencing ill-effects from the surgery or anything like that, but his doctors held him out of action as a precautionary measure. The surgery involved a crainiotomy -- temporarily removing a piece of the skull to access the brain -- which they were concerned had not completely healed yet.
Apparently doctors have since given Patterson the OK, and he is eligible to come off of the NFI list. The Eagles now have three weeks to activate him.
The eight-year veteran's return to the lineup would be a welcome sight. It's always a plus when the team can add another quality player into the rotation, and it's just nice to see a longtime Bird overcome a scary and potentially life-threatening condition.
As for how much Patt's return will help the Eagles, it's hard to say. You can't count on much of a boost for a pass rush that has failed to sack the quarterback for three games running, at least not directly. Patterson's 2.5 sacks last season were his most since '07, when he set a career high with 4.0.
If nothing else, Patterson's return should keep the interior of the defensive line a little fresher. After having tremendous seasons in 2011, both Cullen Jenkins and Derek Landri have been relatively quiet so far this season, which is probably phrasing it kindly. Rookie Fletcher Cox has been impressive, but maybe they'll all get a bounce in production from Patterson's presence.
If Patterson is activated, of course. There is no guarantee the Eagles will, but his practicing seems to indicate he will be added to the roster sooner rather than later. Now it will be interesting to see how soon he returns, and who is cut loose to make room.