If you want to know about the shoulder injury that’s forced Patrick Chung to the sideline for the past two games, don’t ask Patrick Chung.
The Eagles’ free safety practiced in full Thursday for the second time this week and just the second time since he sustained a shoulder injury Sept. 19 in a Thursday night loss to Kansas City at the Linc.
Except for quarterback Michael Vick, Chung is the only player on the 53-man roster whose status for Sunday’s game against Tampa Bay is uncertain. Actually, Vick gave more of an indication to reporters that he wouldn’t play Sunday (see story) than Chung did that he would.
Outside of saying that his shoulder is finally strong again, Chung dropped no clues about his ability to dress and absorb real-game contact and provided very little background or perspective about why an injury once thought to keep him out for two days has instead delayed him for two weeks.
“It’s just how the body is, man. I can’t really answer those questions,” he said Thursday after practice. “You can think whatever you want to. You think it’s a two-day injury and it ended up being a couple weeks, so I can’t really answer those.”
Remember, Chung spent his first four seasons playing in New England for the notoriously tight-lipped Bill Belichick. His new boss, coach Chip Kelly, is likewise evasive when it comes to injured players.
Kelly likes to tell the media that he only knows whether guys can or can’t practice, not the finer details of their injuries. No truth to the rumor that he also has tropical land in South Dakota he’d like to sell to the public.
Although all signs point to Chung playing against the Bucs, Chung said he’s merely just an employee at One NovaCare Way, not a decision-maker.
“If I’m out there, I’m out there,” he said. “If I’m not, guys are going to be out there playing hard.”
Also limited at practice were tight end James Casey (groin) and punter Donnie Jones (left foot), although there are no indications that either guy won’t dress against the Bucs. Full participants were linebacker Connor Barwin (knee), cornerback Brandon Boykin (groin), offensive tackle Jason Peters (finger) and running back Chris Polk (ankle).
It seems very likely that the Eagles will be rotating their three safeties like they did in the first three games, when Chung and Nate Allen started and rookie Earl Wolff subbed in here and there. Wolff, who’s been starting in Chung’s absence, will likely get more snaps against the Bucs than he did as a sub in the first three games.
By the way, the folks upstairs at the NovaCare Complex must have given Wolff a talking-to earlier this week about being too forthcoming with the media. The usually honest rookie from N.C. State clammed up Thursday when asked if he or Chung had taken the first-team reps at practice.
“I can’t say all that,” he said.
Allen was only slightly more forthcoming about Chung’s return and what it would mean for the secondary.
“It would be big regardless of who’s in there,” he said. “We’re all right with Earl in there. Pat. Whoever.”
Chung, whose last two years with the Patriots were set back by injuries, emphasized that he wouldn’t jeopardize his long-term health by rushing back onto the field. Although he was signed to add a veteran presence to a rebuilt defensive backfield, Chung suggested that the secondary wouldn’t be affected by his return or his absence.
“I think we’re good, if I’m back or not,” he said. “We’re in the same [class]room. We have a lot of good athletes, a lot of good players back there. So I’m just working day by day to get back.”