Avonte Maddox

Could this be the week Avonte Maddox finally returns?

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He’s played 15 games since the end of the 2021 season. That’s 15 out of a possible 36.

No wonder Avonte Maddox is going nuts.

Maddox missed nine games last year with various injuries – an ankle, a toe, a hamstring – and needed postseason surgery to repair the toe injury. He’s already missed 13 this year after undergoing surgery for a torn pectoral suffered in the Week 2 win over the Vikings. 

He hasn’t played more than three consecutive games since the 2021 stretch run. 

“It’s been tough mentally and that's been the biggest thing. coming off of two injuries and two surgeries in one year,” Maddox said before practice Wednesday. But everything happens for a reason I feel like and when I get my opportunity to step back on the field, there won't be a change in my game.

“I play the same way every time, all the time. that's just me no matter what,” he said. “So when I step back on the field, run out through the tunnel for the first time again with my shoulder pads on onto the field, it'll be fun.”

The standout slot corner, now in his sixth year out of Pitt, also missed three games in 2018, four in 2019 and six in 2020. He's averaged only 10.3 games per season in his career.

When he’s healthy, Maddox is as good a slot corner as there is in the NFL.

And after more than three months of rehab, he’s finally healthy.

Maddox practiced all three days last week with no restrictions and no limitations, then was inactive for the Giants. He was a full participant again on Wednesday, when the Eagles began their week of preparation for the Cards, and there’s at least a fair chance he’ll play this weekend.

The Eagles opened his 21-day practice window on Dec. 21, so they have until Jan. 11 – the week of the wild-card games - to decide whether to activate him to the 53-man roster or shut him down for the year. 

How does Sunday look?

“I'm not sure yet,” he said. “I still have to make sure I have the physical traits of being able to play a certain amount of plays and not be as tired as much. So I’m just slowly progressing throughout the week, getting a lot of practical reps, as much as I can, and making sure I’m (ready).”

The Eagles have used 11 different players in the slot at one time or another since Maddox got hurt, although in recent weeks Bradley Roby has played the most inside snaps.

It will be interesting to see how the reps are split up if Maddox does return. After a three-month layoff, he’ll probably be on a pitch count. But a healthy Maddox heading into the postseason can only be a positive.

And Maddox said despite his history of injuries, he’ll never change the way he plays the game.

“I play physical, tough. energetic,” he said. “That's how I lead. Not necessarily screaming at people or yelling and telling people what to do, but I put it out on the field and I show it (with) my hustle and my respect for the game.”

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