Eagles' Bloom could miss extended time

Updated: July 22, 2006, 5:58 PM ET
By Len Pasquarelli | ESPN.com

The hamstring injury that landed fifth-round draft choice Jeremy Bloom on the physically unable to perform list for the start of Philadelphia Eagles' training camp is more severe than anticipated, could sideline the former Olympics freestyle skier for much of camp, and perhaps place his NFL rookie season on a slippery slope.

An MRI examination conducted earlier this week revealed that the injury is a tear, not a strain, and likely will require weeks of rehabilitation.

Bloom, who has not played football since 2003 and saw his tenure at the University of Colorado cut short when he lost an appeal to the NCAA over endorsement money he had accepted to fund his skiing career, was chosen by the Eagles to help boost their punt return game.

He originally injured the hamstring during an Eagles minicamp and then aggravated it while he was working out in Arizona with quarterback Donovan McNabb.

Coach Andy Reid announced Thursday, before the results of the examination were available, that Bloom would start camp on the active PUP list. That enables a player to begin practicing as soon as he is medically cleared. But depending on the severity of the tear to the hamstring, Bloom may not join the Eagles' workouts anytime soon.

Philadelphia officials would eventually have the option of moving Bloom to the inactive PUP list before the start of the season. By definition, he would then not be able to practice for the first six weeks of the campaign. The worst-case scenario would be placing Bloom on injured reserve, and that would sideline him for the entire season.

Given that Bloom, 24, has not played football in more than two years, and that he acknowledged that he relied on different muscle groupings as a skier, the Philadelphia training staff probably will take a cautious approach with him.

The 147th player chosen in this year's draft, Bloom signed a four-year, $1.782 million contract. The deal included a $172,000 signing bonus and minimum base salaries for all four seasons.

Eagles coaches were hoping Bloom would be able to contribute on special teams in his rookie season, particularly as a punt returner. The Eagles averaged 8.5 yards on punt returns last season, 12th in the league, but the coaches are seeking more explosiveness in that area.

The punt return duties were split between Dexter Wynn and Reno Mahe in 2005.

Some NFL teams in assessing Bloom before the draft were concerned about his lack of size (5-foot-9, 173 pounds) and his hiatus from the game. Those issues did not preclude the Eagles from choosing him, but he did miss time earlier this spring because of the hamstring injury.

During his truncated college career, spanning only 25 appearances, Bloom demonstrated dynamic big-play skills, scoring five times on plays of more than 75 yards.

He caught 24 passes for 458 yards and two touchdowns and carried 16 times for 93 yards. On special teams, Bloom averaged 13.5 yards on 47 punt returns and scored twice, and he averaged 25.1 yards on kickoff returns with one touchdown. For his career, Bloom averaged 16.2 yards every time he touched the ball.

Bloom was part of the U.S. freestyle skiing team in the 2002 and 2006 Olympics, specializing in the moguls event, but did not win a medal in either Games.

Len Pasquarelli is a senior NFL writer for ESPN.com.

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