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Safety Earl Wolff waived after knee surgery

PHILADELPHIA -- Earl Wolff, an Eagles fifth-round draft pick in 2013, was waived/injured Friday, ending the safety’s attempt to return to the field after knee surgery late in the 2014 season.

Wolff’s release was first reported by Tim McManus of Birds24/7.com.

If Wolff is claimed by another team, his contract shifts to that team. If Wolff is not claimed -- a distinct possibility given his inability to practice this summer -- he would go on the Eagles’ injured reserve list.

On his Twitter account, Wolff said he had “successful” surgery Thursday. He also thanked the Eagles for “giving me an opportunity.”

Wolff missed the last couple of days of practice at the NovaCare Complex. Coach Chip Kelly said Wolff had gone to visit a doctor, presumably Dr. James Andrews, who did the procedure on Wolff’s knee last November.

Kelly was asked Thursday about the reasoning behind waiving injured players, which comes with the risk of losing them in order to free up a roster spot.

“It's just, what do you think is going to happen?” Kelly said. “Is anybody else going to pick him up? Does he revert back to you? It’s really just when you expose him, is someone going to grab him and if you're afraid someone is going to grab him, sometimes you don't do it. That's what you worry about, losing that player. But if you waive him injured and he clears waivers, he can revert back to a team.“

It remains to be seen whether the Eagles will try again with Wolff.

“I think that's the hard part,” Kelly said before Wolff’s being waived was known. “There's that part of how much you care about the individual player, and it's tough. But you still have to move on. We still have to be able to find eight or nine DBs that are ready to play when we go play the Atlanta Falcons. I hope Earl is healthy and is in that mix, but you never know. “

Wolff started six games as a rookie in 2013. He intercepted a Tony Romo pass in his first home start against Dallas. Wolff hurt his knee during the Eagles’ victory in Green Bay and missed the next four games. He tried to return for the game against Chicago, but was inactive the next week.

Last season, Wolff went through training camp and made the 53-man roster. His knee was still an issue though. He was inactive for the third game of the season, then dressed for the next five games. Wolff started for the Eagles in their game at Houston on Nov. 2. He was inactive for the next two games before going on injured reserve.

Wolff had what was described as “mini-microfracture surgery” on the knee. Dr. Andrews used small incisions to generate blood flow in order to add to the cartilage in the knee. Wolff was not always a participant in OTAs, but was cleared to take part once training camp began.

After a week or so, Wolff began to miss some drills. He said the knee was still an issue.

Wolff was meant to compete with Walter Thurmond for the starting safety job vacated by Nate Allen. That competition never really developed, however, because of Wolff’s knee problems. Thurmond is likely to start at safety, with Ed Reynolds, E.J. Biggers, Chris Prosinski, Chris Maragos and Jerome Couplin competing for backup roles.

“It's all bunched up still,” defensive coordinator Bill Davis said. “There is not a guy that's really separating himself. They're actually all encouraging, the way they've played. They've had some interceptions.”