Eagles’ first serious TC injury— Riley Cooper…

I hate writing about injuries.  Don’t wanna see ’em, don’t wanna strategize around them…

But you have to report the truth.

Riley Cooper is escorted off practice field by Eagles head trainer Rick Burkholder after suffering a broken left collarbone in a passing drill on Saturday…

Wide receiver Riley Cooper suffered a fractured left collarbone while trying to catch a pass during one-on-one drills. The Eagles had no timetable for his return, but he is expected to miss at least two months.

Cooper, who is entering his third season with the Eagles as a fifth-round draft pick in 2010, sped down the right sideline against cornerback Curtis Marsh as quarterback Michael Vick threw a deep pass. Cooper and Marsh got tangled up while going for the football and Cooper landed awkwardly on the turf. He remained on the ground for a few minutes while being tended to by the athletic training staff and eventually was taken into the locker room for X-rays that revealed the break.

Cooper caught 16 passes for 315 yards and one touchdown last season after having seven receptions for 116 yards and one TD as a rookie. The 6-foot-3, 222-pounder was expected to fight for a roster spot this season as the Eagles’ No. 4 receiver against rookie Marvin McNutt (6-2, 216), who was taken in the sixth round of this year’s draft.

Meanwhile, Antonio Dixon is fighting back from his own injury problems.

Antonio Dixon, DT, 6-3, 338 currently, 4th year out of Miami…

Dixon is still fighting back from an injury he suffered last year… The fourth-year defensive tackle became the forgotten man of the defense last year after his season ended in the first week of October, when he tore the triceps in a loss to the San Francisco 49ers. Two days later he was on the injured reserve list and headed for his first surgery.

Dixon admits he didn’t handle that period very well.  His weight had already ballooned, the result of previous injuries and the NFL lockout.

“I had never had surgery before,” Dixon said, “so it was pretty tough. I was a little depressed some days [not being able to help]. … They fought hard every game. We just couldn’t put it together. It made me realize how important I am for the team. So I just have to stay healthy and stay in shape.”

Dixon has more control over the second part of that goal than the first. To that end, he plans to hire a personal nutritionist/chef to take over the meal-planning and preparing portion of his life. Dixon actually has already made great strides from where he was last year at this time.

“He was so heavy and out of shape,” recalled defensive line coach Jim Washburn of his first meeting with Dixon last summer, following a long labor stoppage that meant no offseason minicamps for the players and no use of the team’s facilities. “It was disgusting how out of shape he was last year.”

“It was not him. He had all these injuries and no offseason. … But he looked so much different this Spring, and I’m so excited about him. I didn’t know what we had. And now, getting himself in shape, making a commitment — I’ll tell you what. Two words: Barry Rubin.”

Rubin, of course, is the Eagles’ head strength and conditioning coach who put together the plan that dropped Dixon to his more manageable current weight of 338 pounds, just about two weeks away, according to Dixon, from his target of 330.

Washburn and the Eagles now may be able to count on Dixon to step in and provide what Mike Patterson has provided for seven straight seasons — all except one as a fulltime starter. That would be huge, considering how much Washburn thinks of Patterson, who will sit out this camp and be out indefinitely until his surgeon pronounces his skull sufficiently healed from his operation more than six months ago.

“I’ll miss the guy when I turn on the film on Monday morning… [the guy who] plays solid the whole time,” Washburn said of Patterson. “He’s just always in the right place. He does the right thing and he’s going to play hard and he knows what to do. It’s a constant. You turn on the film and you wonder how’s Vinny [Curry] or Fletcher [Cox] going to play or whatever, but Mike was the old solid guy that was always there, and that’s a comfort to a coach to know that he’s always going to do the right thing.”

At the very least, Dixon has earned Washburn’s trust and admiration.

“This spring he worked his butt off,” the coach said. “He’s down in weight. I don’t know how much he weighs. He’s down to maybe 330 from 360 or whatever it was. He’s in so much better shape and I went, ‘Wow, this guy’s got some quickness.’ He likes to play and he’s tough, but he’s got ability. He’s a real guy. I’m really excited about him. And he’s such a good person. He wants to be a good player. He’s going to help us a lot.”

Without Patterson in the mix, Dixon might even start, although all of the four tackles who eventually will wind up in the rotation are considered starters anyway by head coach Andy Reid because they essentially play the same number of snaps.

“The thing I’m good at is getting off the ball,” Dixon said, “so Coach Washburn’s system fits me a lot.”

Thomas Jackson

About Thomas Jackson

Jax Sports Media has been reporting on NFL teams in the mid-Atlantic region since 2006. Thomas Jackson is its senior writer. Tom started covering the Philadelphia Eagles for the MVN Network in 2007. In 2009 he joined the Bloguin Network. He now also covers the Baltimore Ravens.