Patterson played last season, on medication, after doctors diagnosed an arteriovenous malformation, or AVM, a tangle of blood vessels in his brain that they said caused the seizure. But it was clear Patterson would need offseason surgery to permanently fix the problem. He underwent it in January. At the time, Patterson and the Eagles projected a 6-month recovery time, which would have put him on the field around the start of camp. Interviewed after working out on his own last month during OTAs, Patterson said he felt he'd be OK for camp.
Burkholder said when the team sent recent X-ray and CT scans for review last week to Dr. Robert Spetzler, the Phoenix-based AVM specialist who did the surgery, he didn't think Patterson's skull had healed well enough for him to risk contact. Patterson's agent, J.R. Rickert, said a bone graft needs more time to heal.
"He'll be on our nonfootball injury list … we don't really have a time frame when he'll be back with us," Burkholder said. "In the history of the National Football League, not a lot of players have had craniotomies, have had a piece of their skull taken off and put back on. We thought he would be ready, because today's 6 months since the surgery. He's not. That's just what happens with healing. Everybody heals differently. We anticipate he'll heal up fully and be back playing again. It's just not today."
Burkholder said Patterson will be reevaluated in a month or so.
"It could be a couple months, you know, or more," he said.
"Physically, I feel fine," Patterson said, after the announcement. "I feel like I could go out there and put pads on and hit somebody. But doctor's orders. That's what I'm going with. Hopefully everything will work out and I'll be back soon."
Patterson was asked if Spetzler's caution surprised him. The surgery left an 8-inch scar under Patterson's hairline.
"It kind of threw me off," he said. "I thought I could be ready right now, and be able to practice and stuff. But he looked at it and just felt more comfortable if I waited a little bit longer."
Patterson also said: "I have no doubt I'll be out there at some point in time."
The first sign something was awry Sunday came in midafternoon, when the Birds made a player-for-player trade, something that rarely happens as training camps are opening. They sent a corner, D.J. Johnson, who ended last season on their practice squad, to Indianapolis for former Penn State defensive tackle Ollie Ogbu, who spent last season on the Colts' practice squad.
If there was one thing the Eagles didn't seem to need at Lehigh, it was another defensive lineman. That's their most overstocked position — until you take away the guy who has played all but two games since arriving as a first-round draft pick in 2005.
Patterson, who turns 29 in September, was one of the injured vets asked to report with the rookies Sunday. When he stepped out of his blue Dodge pickup, at the spot in front of the dorms where reporters congregate, Patterson was whisked inside without answering questions, accompanied by a team spokesman and the team security director. It seemed he wasn't speaking until Reid (and Burkholder) gave the official update, and that was how it happened.
Asked who will start in Patterson's place, Reid spoke first of Antonio Dixon, then of his four-tackle rotation — Cullen Jenkins, Dixon, Derek Landri and rookie Fletcher Cox. Reid said he considers all of them starters.
Reid said that even though the Eagles thought Patterson would be ready, "we took precautionary measures, and we made sure that that position, we didn't come up short." They brought back Landri after he became a free agent and drafted Cox in the first round, 12th overall. "I think as you look at the position, even though you take Michael out of it, you're still looking at a strong position. I think we're going to be OK there," he said.
The other injury news was more routine — special-teams ace Colt Anderson, coming off ACL repair, starts camp on the physically unable to perform list. Left tackle Jason Peters, who is extremely unlikely to play this season after tearing his right Achilles' twice, starts on the nonfootball injury list. Everybody else will at least take the field for Monday morning's rookie and select vet walkthrough, Reid said.
The Eagles signed a couple of free agents, Philadelphia Soul wideout Anthony "Tiger" Jones and corner Kee-ayre Griffin. Jones, 30, played for Louisville and has spent 4 years in the Arena Football League. Griffin played at Temple and tried out for the Eagles in the spring … The rookies hold a walkthrough Monday morning at 8:45, then practice at 3:30. n
Contact Les Bowen at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @LesBowen. For more Eagles coverage and opinion, read his blog at www.eagletarian.com.