Mathis Returns; Sproles, Kendricks Limited

Photo by Jeff Fusco.

Photo by Jeff Fusco.

Evan Mathis showed off the large brace caging his left knee at his locker stall Wednesday afternoon. He gave the black contraption a smack and lifted his leg this way and that to demonstrate that he had good range of motion. The All-Pro guard had just wrapped up his first practice since suffering an MCL injury in the opener against Jacksonville, and was clearly pleased with how it went.

“It felt great. I was really looking forward to getting back out there and was trying to go into it with the mindset like I wasn’t hurt and not try to favor anything, and it held up as good as it could hold up,” he said. “I didn’t feel any instability, I didn’t feel any weakness. Counting this week I have three full weeks of practice before I have to play so I think that’s going to be ample time to get back to right where I need to be.”

This was the first day that Mathis was eligible to practice after being placed on short-term injured reserve following the Jaguars game in early September. He cannot play until Monday, November 10 against Carolina.

Could he have play sooner if not for the short-term IR restriction?

“It would probably be pushing it to come back this week but if I was not on this designation and it was a playoff game or a very important game for us, then I would push it and do it,” he said. “At this rate, I’d probably be able to go next week [against Houston].”

Mathis added that the designation has been a good thing for him, ensuring that he doesn’t push himself too hard and risking further injury in the name of getting back early.

He wore a brace briefly in college but it wasn’t fitted properly so the experiment didn’t last long. He feels comfortable with the one he has now, and will wear it during games. Mathis said that he maintained the same weight while out, and felt better than he anticipated from a conditioning standpoint Wednesday.

Being forced to sit out has been frustrating for Mathis, but he has maintained a positive outlook.

“I expect myself to be a spring chicken the last stretch of the season. I feel really good. Usually at this point in the season there are some aches and pains going on, but my knee doesn’t even hurt right now. Right now I’m completely fresh. It’s like I’m starting OTAs or training camp. It’s a good feeling.”

Mathis was listed as a limited participant Wednesday along with Darren Sproles (MCL), Mychal Kendricks (calf) and Jason Kelce. Chris Polk (hamstring) was full-go.

As of Wednesday afternoon, there were no signs that Matthew Tucker would be called up from the practice squad. Sproles moved pretty well at practice Wednesday, and his teammates weren’t ruling him out for the Cardinals game.