Earl Wolff sold out to break up a pass in the second quarter against the Bears and came up limping. He had missed the last four games with a hyper-extended right knee, and found himself back on the trainers table just moments into his return.
“When I tweaked it against Chicago, Cary [Williams] came over when I was sitting with [the doctor], and was like, ‘Earl, man, we need you out there. C’Mon, man. We want you out there, man.’ I was like, ‘Bro, I want to be out there. I guarantee I want to be out there and play.’ But I couldn’t.”
There were rumblings late in the season that Wolff had been given the green light for a return by the medical staff but decided to hold himself out. We asked Wolff if there was any truth to that.
"I wouldn't necessarily say it was that. It might have been something similar to that," said Wolff. "And it wasn't that I didn't want to play, I just felt like if I would have went out there, I wouldn't have been able to play my game. I would have been thinking about it. Not to say that I would've messed something up -- I trust them in the training room -- but just to a point to where I just wouldn't have been able to play my game and make the plays that I can make, and I could have possibly hurt our defense more than helped.
"I wouldn't even say that I wasn't trusting [the knee]. I couldn't run like I wanted to. I couldn't move like I wanted to. I'm a tough guy, man. I've played through injury, I've played through aches and pains. I just couldn't play my game the way I wanted to, that's the way I looked at it. I continued to pray about it; my family prayed about it with me. I felt like everything happens for a reason, and me not playing those games happened for a reason."
Wolff ended up missing the regular-season finale in Dallas. He was active for the Saints playoff game but hadn't practiced all week and was available for emergency purposes only. A struggling Patrick Chung once again took his place in the lineup.
The rookie out of N.C. State, who had an interception, five passes defensed and 45 tackles in 11 games, originally injured the knee in Green Bay on November 10. He explained that often when he tried to cut or explode afterwards, he felt a sharp pain. It would come and go.
"I thought I might be running for a deep ball and I might feel that and it might just...it was the little things, man," said Wolff. "It felt stable. There was nothing wrong where I felt like I was going to hurt myself, but I just couldn't play my game. I play fast. I don't like to think, I like to react. I feel like if I was out there playing I might have been thinking and it probably would have altered my game which would have hurt my team more than helped."
The 24-year-old has proven he can play through pain. Wolff said that he partially tore the rotator cuff in his right shoulder the second game of his sophomore season and didn't miss any time. The difference is that he could run full speed with that shoulder injury. The ailing knee restricted him so, knowing his body and game better than anyone, decided he wasn't able to contribute.
"I understand that at this level you have to battle through injuries and being hurt and try to play, but I feel the position I play it's kinda tough, man," said Wolff. "I feel like maybe if I played a different position maybe I would have had a chance to do something. They really wanted me to come back. And don't get me wrong, I wanted to come back more than anybody, I wanted to come back out there and play with my teammates and basically help us win."
WHAT YOU MISSED
Sheil with an All-22 look at why the run defense faltered against New Orleans.
From Jeremy Maclin to the kicker situation, Howie Roseman talks offseason issues.
Chemistry mattered in 2013, Kapadia writes.
WHAT THEY'RE SAYING
Jimmy Kempski with a pretty epic takedown of a New York Times article on Michael Vick.
And then... I was blindsided by a shocking revelation. As I do every day, I checked the New York Times for the latest happenings around the globe, and stumbled upon a truly eye-opening article about Michael Vick, and his role in something called "dogfighting." It is a Pulitzer-worthy read, as the unquestionably talented author, Juliet Macur, exposed Vick for being a convincted felon.
Geoff Mosher writes about Kelly's rookie campaign.
Chip Kelly’s entry into the NFL didn’t come without doubters and skeptics, people who questioned whether the former Oregon coach who lacked any prior NFL coaching experience at any level could rub elbows with guys who have Super Bowl rings.
One person in particular wasn’t convinced Kelly had the makeup to coach in this league.
“I wasn't confident,” Kelly admitted Monday. “I had a system and a plan that we were going to go in, but I didn't know what the outcome was going to be until it was all finished.”
Many more story lines to address as the Eagles shift into offseason mode.