BETHLEHEM, Pa. - Canadian rookie lineman Danny Watkins put his first-aid skills to good use Wednesday when a Philadelphia Eagles teammate suffered a seizure at training camp.
Watkins, a trained firefighter from Kelowna, B.C., provided assistance when defensive tackle Mike Patterson dropped to the ground at morning practice and started violently shaking. Patterson was also tended to by team trainer Rick Burkholder and his staff before being transported to Lehigh Valley Hospital.
The six-foot-one, 300-pound player is stable and was scheduled to undergo further tests, Burkholder said.
"Chances are really good we're going to keep him in overnight for observation," Burkholder said. "He's there with his wife. The only thing that we've really ruled out, he didn't have any bleeding in his brain or anything like that. The bleeding that some of you saw was that he bit his tongue, they've confirmed that, and they're running more tests on him right now.
"But he's very stable. He wants to come back to training camp, but he's over there being observed, but that's pretty normal for somebody who has a seizure. Standard protocol says keep him in overnight to watch him and keep some monitors on him and whatnot."
Patterson, 28, was the Eagles' first-round pick out of USC in 2005. He's started 84 games and played in 95, the most of anybody on the current roster.
Watkins, 26, has played just four years of competitive football. He took up the sport while studying firefighting science at Butte Community College in Northern California in 2007.
"You never want to see a player go down like that," Watkins said. "The staff said he's going to be fine. Hopes and prayers are going to be with him tonight."
Patterson's agent JR Ricket said in a statement that the player is "in no pain and doing well."
"We are very grateful for everyone's prayers and support," he added. "Mike will be back at practice as soon as the doctors clear him."
Burkholder said the seizure lasted about four minutes, and that Patterson lost consciousness at one point as he was on the ground. As players kneeled nearby, holding hands and praying, an ambulance arrived and Patterson was placed on a stretcher and lifted into the ambulance.
The linemen resumed practice after about 15 minutes. The skill position players did drills on another field while Patterson was down.
"We were all on edge a little bit and Rick just kind of calmed the situation down," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "One thing I think he did a phenomenal job with was evaluating it, evaluating the situation in a calm way."
It was a cool day at camp. Temperatures were around 25 degrees C when the players took the field for their morning session.
Burkholder said there's no timetable for Patterson's return.
"We'll turn that over to the neurologists and those people who are absolute experts," he said. "It's not like hamstring strains. We don't see tons of seizures in our sport, so that's why I have a whole team of physicians, and Lehigh Valley Hospital has a great neuro department, so we're allowing them to handle the case now and then we'll get him to see our docs down at the Pennsylvania Hospital eventually."
Watkins, meanwhile, was drafted fourth overall by the B.C. Lions in the 2010 CFL Draft, but instead played out his senior season at Baylor. He was the 23rd pick in this year's NFL draft.
Watkins started working as a volunteer firefighter at 17, getting paid per call and spending one year living in a fire hall with guys who were mostly years older. Some members of his fire department in Kelowna were present at Radio City Music Hall to hear his name announced as a first-round pick.
Watkins recently agreed to terms on a four-year contract and is projected to be the Eagles' opening-day starting right guard.