UPDATE: The Eagles ruled cornerback Asante Samuel OUT for Saturday's game with a hamstring injury.
The Eagles certainly would love to have Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel in the lineup Saturday against Dallas. But after Samuel missed practice on Wednesday and Thursday due to a hamstring injury, the rest of the cornerbacks are prepared for the possibility that Samuel won't play.
"I feel like it's good that we have this many corners on the team, I guess maybe not the number but we have this many talented corners on the team so we can fit people in when somebody goes down, if need be," cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha said. "I don't think every team has that to their advantage."
If Samuel can't play, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will start at Samuel's left cornerback spot. That is a natural fit for Rodgers-Cromartie who was the starter at left cornerback last season in Arizona. Rodgers-Cromartie's nickel slot corner position would be manned by veteran Joselio Hanson. Rodgers-Cromartie's teammates had high praise for the Pro Bowl cornerback.
"He's been a good player before he came here this year, so that was never in question," Asomugha said. "But like everything else learning this new system, it wasn't going to be a quick turnaround for him, I think. And then, the injury (a high-ankle sprain) – I don't know how many games he missed, maybe four or so, but we brought him back slowly. And when you come back from injury, then the confidence has to play a part and you have to start getting that back and be sure of yourself. And we're starting to see that a lot more from him, that he's putting the injury behind him and he's playing better through it."
Samuel suffered the hamstring injury last Sunday against the Jets. Rodgers-Cromartie replaced Samuel and tipped a Mark Sanchez pass that was intercepted by linebacker Jamar Chaney.
On the Thursday prior to the Eagles' matchup against the Patriots in Week 12, Asomugha suffered a hyperextended knee that limited his playing time and affected the defense's gameplan. With the entire week to brace for the chance of Samuel not playing, the cornerbacks are prepared to execute the full gameplan against Dallas on Saturday.
"We'll be able to run the same packages," Hanson said. "It's good to have depth on the team and we'll show it off on Saturday. If Asante doesn't play, then everybody should be ready to get the job done."
The Cowboys boast one of the deepest, tallest and most physical stable of receivers in the league with Dez Bryant, Miles Austin, Laurent Robinson and tight ends Jason Witten and Martellus Bennett. Asomugha handled Witten in the first matchup with the Cowboys back on October 30. Asomugha did admit that Samuel's availability would affect how much he plays on Witten.
The focal point of the Cowboys offense is quarterback Tony Romo. In virtually every category, the Week 8 matchup between the Eagles and the Cowboys was Romo's worst performance of the season. Romo has not thrown an interception in the last three games and in each contest has boasted a passer rating of at least 95.
"He's one of the top quarterbacks," Asomugha said. "He gets into those moments where he's really streaky and it's tough to stop him."
But the Eagles are confident, with or without Samuel, that they can take care of their business and try to keep their postseason hopes alive.
"We've done well in the past, so we're pretty confident," Asomugha said.
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