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Trotter back with Eagles after year out of league

PHILADELPHIA -- Jeremiah Trotter is back for a third run with the Philadelphia Eagles.

The four-time Pro Bowl linebacker signed a one-year contract Tuesday, returning to Philadelphia after spending a year out of the NFL.

Career Statistics
Years: 10

Tackles: 632

Pro Bowls: 4

The Eagles released quarterback Jeff Garcia to make room for Trotter. Garcia was signed as an emergency backup after Donovan McNabb cracked a rib in the season opener.

Trotter had been working part-time as a talk-show host at WIP-AM. He's glad to trade in the headsets and microphone for his No. 54 jersey.

"I'm happy to be back in green," Trotter said. "I was raised in those colors, in that system. I'm part of this city."

The 32-year-old Trotter provides depth at middle linebacker behind Omar Gaither, who became the starter when Stewart Bradley tore his ACL in training camp.

Gaither replaced Trotter in 2007. Now Trotter could be taking some of his reps. Trotter said he expects to play on first and second downs.

"I look forward to contributing the first game," he said.

The Eagles (2-1) are off this week and host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Oct. 11.

A third-round pick by the Eagles in 1998, Trotter was one of the fiery leaders on a strong defense for the better part of a decade. He quickly became a fan favorite with his hard hits and emotional style. Trotter established himself as one of the premier players at his position, earning Pro Bowl honors in 2000 and 2001.

He left for Washington after a bitter contract dispute in 2002, but returned in 2004, eventually winning the starting job and helping the Eagles reach the Super Bowl. He went to the Pro Bowl after the '04 and '05 seasons.

Slowed by nagging knee problems, Trotter was released before the 2007 season. He spent that year with Tampa Bay, but only played in three games.

Trotter had surgery on his right knee after leaving the Buccaneers and says that has significantly improved his speed and agility. He never lost his desire to play again, even though he had few offers.

"At times when I was home last year, I would ask myself, 'Should I give it up?' But something kept telling me to workout and stay in shape," Trotter said. "I've got at least three years left."

A 10-year veteran, Trotter had 100 or more tackles in five of his seven seasons with the Eagles. He has 12.5 sacks, eight forced fumbles and nine interceptions, including two returned for touchdowns, in 134 career games.

"Jeremiah Trotter has always been one of my favorite players," coach Andy Reid said. "He has worked very hard to keep himself in shape and we are pleased with where he is physically. We are excited to give him an opportunity to contribute to our football team."

Trotter, nicknamed the "The Axeman" for doing a chop after a big play, gives the Eagles a needed veteran presence on defense. The team lost longtime safety Brian Dawkins in free agency and defensive coordinator Jim Johnson died after a battle with cancer.

"Be a leader, work hard and make plays," Trotter said when asked what coaches told him. "I love to play downhill, disrupt things and attack the line of scrimmage."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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