On The Comeback Trail

Scout.com's Adam Caplan recently talked to Philadelphia Eagles CB Ellis Hobbs about several subjects including his recovery from a neck injury, his brief time as an Eagle, and his impending restricted free agency in this Q&A feature.

Scout.com: Bring us up-to-date on your injury, where everything stands, and how it happened.

Ellis Hobbs: Well, of of right now, there is no injury anymore. Pretty much everything is bandaged up.

On Sunday night football against the Cowboys in November, I took a bad hit, but not too bad. I suffered a herniated disc. Dr. (Alexander) Vaccaro in Philadelphia took the disc out in December. I was in a neck collar for nearly a month and a half.

Right now, I'm doing fine. I've been working out. I feel good and I don't have any tingling in my fingers. They compared it to a root canal. When the tooth isn't there there's nothing there any more. They replaced it with a minimal amount of bone. If anything, I just lost a little range of motion after the surgery. But it's back now.


Scout.com: At this point, what are you allowed to do? Are you lifting weights, running?

Ellis Hobbs: I'm lifting and running, everything I would normally do. But they want me to gradually go through the process. I'm doing more aerobics, more body stretching. Fortunately, I wouldn't be doing a lot physical stuff now, anyway. That comes in May.


Scout.com
: When you had that injury, did you have any idea what happened? I know that there are times when it's hard to tell what exactly happening.

Ellis Hobbs: I had a pretty good idea when it happened what was going on. When I got hit, I just dropped. I couldn't feel certain things. If anyone had a stinger or a burner before, that's what we call them in the NFL, you know what I mean. I couldn't feel anything in my shoulders. But the good thing was I started to feel pain after a while, which was a good considering I couldn't feel anything at first.

It's funny, when I went to the sidelines, the neurologist and our physician told me on the sidelines after seeing me walk off under my own power that I was done (playing for the game). After we went and did the X-rays, it showed a herniated disc on the spinal cord and they said if we get this thing fixed now, you can come back full-go. But if you let it go, it could get worse and worse.


Scout.com: Getting back to one of the reasons why the Eagles traded for you, you're known as one of the NFL's best kickoff returners. Watching your returns over the years, I find your style a different from the other top returners. I know your average was down a bit last season, but you almost brought a few back for scores. If I recall correctly, a few of your good returns were lost due to penalties.

Ellis Hobbs: My personality is like I play. I'm kind of fearless. I'll take the ball out from anywhere. You're kind of at an advantage when you do that. When a team kicks it five yards deep, they don't expect you to take it out. But with the speed that I'm bringing to the table and then with my vision, and my athletic ability, I think I can bring it to the house at any time. One of the things I take pride in is, all the years I've played, I've done the kick return role, but also been starting at cornerback. Not a lot of guys can do that.


Scout.com
: When the Eagles traded for you, what role or roles did you think you would have?

Ellis Hobbs: Well, I thought I would have both roles, but they had something else in mind. But that's out of my control. It didn't work out the way I had planned, plus I got hurt. But I know in my mind I'm a starter and I know I can return kicks. I'm fortunate to have a job and get paid a good amount of money. I did the best that I could. Anytime I go out on the field, I give my best effort. Unfortunately, my season didn't end the way I wanted it to.


Scout.com
: You turn only 27 in May, so if you come back to the Eagles, you could be given a chance to start. Do you want to come back or play elsewhere?

Ellis Hobbs
: I want to win, I don't want to be around a losing mentality. Obviously with the Eagles, they are a winning organization. With the CBA and restricted free agency, I don't really have much of a choice.


Scout.com
: Since you would have become an unrestricted free agent with a new CBA in place, what are your thoughts of likely becoming a restricted free agent on Friday?

Ellis Hobbs: It's one of those things that it's out of my hands. Fortunately, I didn't have any control over it. My agents take care of that stuff, but it's not their fault. Unfortunately, there are a lot of guys that have to deal with this situation.


Scout.com: Assuming the Eagles tender you, that means you'll be back for at least one season. And they did give up two fifth-round picks to acquire you. Do you feel like they would give you a chance to become a starter again?

Ellis Hobbs: There's no question that my record speaks for itself. I've started a lot of games in my career. If I'm given a crack, I'll blow it wide open. But will I be given a chance? My effort and professionalism is probably a plus. But I know it's a business, so I have to earn what I get.


Scout.com: You have a unique perspective of playing for Andy Reid and Bill Belichick.

Ellis Hobbs: Oh yeah, but it's funny. On my exit physical, coach (Reid) said we hadn't really had a chance to talk before. I missed half the season and I was only around for a little while. But probably coming from a professional organization like New England, and being that I've been around in the league for a while, coach didn't really have to say much.

Coach Belichick is probably more vocal, but they are both great coaches.


Scout.com: Did you notice any differences in both from each team? More man, less zone? I know the Eagles historically have played more man than most teams.

Ellis Hobbs: Well, I don't want to get into the playbook, but with the Eagles, there's a controlled chaos. That fits me more than the controlled scheme in New England. You can see how you can make plays in the Eagles' scheme.


Scout.com: Do you prefer man or zone coverage?

Ellis Hobbs: I'm a smaller guy, so I prefer man. Getting up in a guy's face and jamming (him). The good thing about zones and how intricate they are, there a lot of man-zones, but there are a lot times you can still get in your man's face in cover-2 or cover-5 with your techniques. At the end of the day, in man, that's your guy, so that's what I prefer.

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