There arent many good stories on the 2011 Philadelphia Eagles. Not many at all.
Colt Anderson was one of the few.
Anderson played at a tremendous level on special teams this year and along with Akeem Jordan was one of the biggest reasons the Eagles rank fifth in the NFL in punt return coverage and third in the NFL in kick return coverage.
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Now Anderson faces knee surgery and a lengthy rehab after suffering a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee Thursday night in the Eagles loss to the Seahawks in Seattle.
Anderson got hurt at the end of a Chas Henry punt play in the second quarter. He knew immediately.
Its tough, but Ill be back, Anderson said Friday. I knew. I heard it, I felt it. Tried to get up. Couldnt get up.
Anderson grew up in Butte, Mont., and Seattle is the closest NFL city to Western Montana, so Anderson had a huge group at the game Thursday night -- more than 100 friends and family.
They saw him hobble slowly off the field, accompanied by two trainers.
I never had an injury like this before, he said. Typical ACL. Eight to 10 months. Hopefully sooner.
Anderson will have surgery next week. Opening day next year is nine months away, so theres a good chance this will cut into his 2012 season as well.
Anderson, a safety by trade, is under contract through next year.
The Eagles measure all their special teamers in a variety of ways. One is first man down the field on cover teams, and Anderson was credited with being the first guy down the field 16 times in the Eagles first 11 games -- 10 more than anybody else (Brandon Hughes was second at six). He also had a team-high nine tackles (tied with Jordan), 20 blocks on returns.
Back when he was special teams coach here, John Harbaugh developed a point system that rated all the Eagles special teamers, and through 11 games this year, Anderson had a 146-85 margin on second-place Owen Schmitt.
He was having a Pro Bowl season, but more importantly, he was one of the few Eagles players that really had nothing to apologize for during a lost 4-8 season.
Winning or losing, every play I was on the field, I was fighting, Anderson said. I was doing my 1-11th to help the team. Im not a guy that leads vocally, Im more of a guy that leads by example, and I hope some guys saw that I was doing that.
Anderson played for former Eagle Tim Hauck at Montana and spent his first 1NFL seasons with the Vikings but never played a game.
With the Eagles, he found a home as one of the NFLs best special teamers.
Hes really a special guy, special teams coach Bobby April said recently. Hes playing at a Pro Bowl rate, for sure. Ive had some guys make the Pro Bowl, and hes certainly playing at that level -- or maybe even higher.
Weve all seen guys suffer knee injuries and try to come back too soon. Anderson said he has to balance his desire to get back on the field as fast as possible with the knowledge that these things just take time to heal, and rushing back isnt always the best course of action.
Definitely got to be smart, Anderson said. Im a guy, I like to push myself, so its going to be a fine line whether I push myself too hard or not. But Ill be back. Ill do everything I can to get back as soon as I can.
E-mail Reuben Frank at email@example.com