While insisting he's still expected to resume his football career, the Philadelphia Eagles said Sunday that defensive tackle Mike Patterson's return has been delayed, six months after he underwent brain surgery.
Patterson, who in January had a craniotomy to repair a arteriovenous malformation, or AVM, has not been cleared to return by the doctor in charge of his care and will miss training camp at Lehigh University.
Head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder said the decision was made Friday, after surgeon Robert Spetzler in Phoenix reviewed a CT scan and X-ray to evaluate the healing related to the piece of Patterson's skull that was removed to perform the procedure. Burkholder said Spetzler "wasn't totally happy with it."
"We're all optimistic that he's going to play again," said Burkholder. "It's just not today."
Burkholder said Patterson will miss camp and will be re-evaluated in about month. The eighth-year pro, who is on the non-football injury list, could miss "a couple months or more."
"We thought he'd be ready for this camp; Mike thought he would, too," said Burkholder. "But we also knew that there was a chance that he may not be ready, and that's what's happened. Nobody's alarmed by it. I think Mike's disappointed, only because he had set this week as his goal."
Patterson checked into his dorm room with rookies and selected veterans Sunday afternoon and said he was disappointed, but understood the decision.
"The bone, that's the only thing they're concerned with," Patterson said. "We're just kind of waiting to see what happens. All the procedures are done. I'm just healing right now."
Patterson, the team's top draft pick in 2005, has started 99 games and missed just two in seven seasons. He missed just 17 days of training camp last year after suffering a seizure during practice Aug. 3. The AVM, a tangle of blood vessels on the brain, was diagnosed while Patterson was hospitalized.
Patterson was cleared to play while taking medication to prevent another seizure, and put off surgery until after the season. While the team anticipated Patterson would be ready for camp, Burkholder said Spetzler wanted to be cautious with the healing in the skull.
"He's concerned about some very small situations that he could get into in football, so right now he's going to hold off," said Burkholder.
Eagles coach Andy Reid first mentioned veteran Antonio Dixon when asked who would replace Patterson on the starting defense, but then mentioned the four-player rotation the team usually uses at tackle. That includes top daft pick Fletcher Cox.
Reid said tackle remains a "strong position." The team also made a trade Sunday for former Penn State starter Ollie Ogbu, who spent last season on the Colts' practice squad. The Eagles sent practice squad cornerback D.J. Johnson to Indianapolis.
Burkholder said Patterson will remain at Lehigh and do training work, but is prohibited from doing any football activities.
"We thought he would be ready because today's six months from the surgery, and he's not," said Burkholder. "That's just what happens with healing. We anticipate he'll heal up fully and be back playing again, just not today.
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