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Is There Really a Chance Jason Peters Could Return This Year?

Oct 5, 2012, 10:30 AM EDT

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It’s only October, but four weeks into the season it sure looks like the injury to Jason Peters is something the Eagles may never quite fully overcome in 2012. Pass protection and running to the left have been issues, and they’ve already flip-flopped Demetress Bell for King Dunlap at left tackle, then back again.

But Peters looms in the shadows of the non-football injury list, eligible to rejoin the 53-man roster between Weeks 6 and 9. As impossible as that prospect might sound, both Peters and Andy Reid seem to believe he could still make it back in time to contribute this season.

Peters ruptured his Achilles’ during a private workout back in March, then again only weeks later in a bizarre accident involving a Roll-A-Bout. Yet just six months after his second surgery to have the tendon repaired, Les Bowen of the Daily News tells us the All-Pro is eying a return.

“I’m running, doing everything,” Peters said, pausing briefly as he walked from the locker room to a training room. Asked if he has realistic hopes of playing this season, Peters said, “yeah.”

Asked about a timetable for his return, Peters said there isn’t one. “I’m taking it day by day,” he said.

On Wednesday, Reuben Frank proposed the timetable could be the playoffs, perhaps in part thanks to a new rule. If Peters isn’t quite ready for action by Week 9, Frank suggests the Eagles move him directly from non-football injury to short-term IR, a once-per-season exemption which a player can return from six weeks later. That would be just in time for the playoffs, by the way.

If you think this is only reporters fueling speculation, that’s not entirely true either. It’s telling the Eagles didn’t put him on injured reserve when the season began, and Andy Reid hasn’t ruled anything out, either.

“He’s healing fast,” head coach Andy Reid said Wednesday. “He’s making progress.”

Yet you do have to wonder. Because Reid won’t publicly dismiss the possibility Peters could come back this year doesn’t mean it’s anything he’s actually depending on. And while the recovery period from these types of major surgeries is getting shorter all time (take for example Ryan Howard making a run at Opening Day six months after his) that doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll be operating anywhere close to 100% (and when Howard finally came back in July, he still had that ugly hitch in his step).

So it’s probably best to continue viewing Peters as a longshot for this season, as it was termed back at the beginning of training camp. There is no doubt his presence has been missed, but expecting him not only to play this season — not to mention at anything resembling the level we’ve become accustomed — seems a bit desperate. Then again, another month or two down the road, and maybe the Eagles are desperate.