Eagles rookie Nolan Smith returned to practice on Wednesday, the day after head coach Nick Sirianni was non-committal about Smith being ready for Week 1.
Smith (shoulder) had missed five straight practices and the preseason finale after suffering a shoulder injury in the second preseason game on Aug. 17.
On Wednesday, Smith was in a helmet and during the portion of practice open to reporters, taking part in some special teams drills and position drills. But during a special teams drill with contact, he did not participate. Instead, he took mental reps behind the drill.
The Eagles aren’t required to submit an official injury report until next week but Smith’s likely designation for Wednesday would have been limited.
It’s a step in the right direction.
Here’s what Sirianni said on Tuesday when asked if there was any concern about Smith missing the opener:
“He is getting ready and working hard every day to rehab himself and get himself ready to go,” Sirianni said. “If he is ready to go, we'll play him. If he is not, then we won't. But we feel good that he is on the right path, but we'll see. I don't want to set any unrealistic expectations for him.”
The Eagles play on the road in Week 1 in New England on Sept. 10. That’s 11 days away.
It’s worth noting that the Eagles did go heavy on their defensive line in their initial 53-man roster. They kept six edge players: Haason Reddick, Josh Sweat, Brandon Graham, Smith, Derek Barnett and Patrick Johnson.
In addition to Smith’s injury, Reddick is also recovering from recent thumb surgery. While Reddick expects to play in Week 1, he is unsure exactly how much his surgically repaired thumb will affect his play.
When Smith left the preseason game against the Browns in mid-August, he said it was for precautionary reasons but allowed that the injury was related to the surgery he had in November to repair his pectoral muscle.
“You could say it’s scar tissue, something simple like (that),” Smith said. “I don’t really want to get too deep into it. But it’s my baby and I take care of it every day. Sometimes she works and sometimes she don’t.”
While Smith practiced on Wednesday, there were a couple practice squad players not practicing: Greg Ward Jr. (ankle) and Kyron Johnson (appendectomy). Johnson worked on the side with a trainer.
Jordan Davis, who missed Monday’s session with an illness, returned.