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Injuries Challenging Depth At Key Spots

Donovan McNabb is doubtful for Sunday's game against Kansas City. Kevin Curtis, too. Brian Westbrook, who hasn't practiced all week because of a sprained ankle, is questionable. Quintin Demps, a starting gunner on special teams, is unlikely to play. With Todd Herremans already out and Shawn Andrews on Injured Reserve, the offensive line is already down some front-line players.

Welcome to another week of As The Injuries Mount with the Eagles.

Look for some young faces on the field this week. Rookie Jeremy Maclin starts if Curtis, who didn't practice Friday because of a sore knee, can't play. And while the Maclin/DeSean Jackson pairing is a glimpse into the not-so-distant future for this offense, the question really is how ready Maclin is for the moment and how effective Jackson can be after missing a couple of days of practice with a groin injury.

"I'm excited," said Maclin. "I've had a taste of what it's like and if I get out there more on Sunday, I'll be ready to go. I think I've improved and of course I want to play as much as I can."

Kolb has taken all of the first-team practice reps the last two weeks and there is a feeling here that he will take a leap forward again in his second start. Kolb threw for 391 yards and a pair of touchdowns against the Saints, but he also turned the ball over three times in the Eagles' loss.

Westbrook's ankle is much improved since Sunday and he spent a portion of Friday watching practice from the sidelines. The swelling in the sprained ankle has been greatly reduced. Westbrook should be a go for Sunday, but how long can he last? Rookie LeSean McCoy may see the most extended time of his NFL career in Week 3.

So you look around the skill positions and see two rookies (Maclin, McCoy), a second-year player (Jackson) and a third-year player (Kolb). Oh, and a tight end (Brent Celek) in his third season and first as a full-time starter and a fullback (Leonard Weaver) playing in his third game as an Eagle.
And that offensive ilne that looked so good on paper in June has had significant ch-ch-changes already.

Add in a rookie safety in Macho Harris and some re-arranged linebackers -- Stewart Bradley is out and Omar Gaither is in (more on that later) -- and the Eagles are young in so many spots. This is a young football team, folks. No doubt about it. The Eagles are experiencing a test of their depth and they are asking their 2009 draft class to contribute immediately -- and heavily.

Wide receiver is certainly a group to watch. Expect Reggie Brown to be active for Week 3. He has been itching to play. A former starter and a player the Eagles signed to a long-term contract long, long ago, Brown was inactive for the NFC Championship Game and for the opening two regular season games this season. He should be the fourth receiver and could get some decent snaps when the Eagles go to four-wides looks on Sunday.

Jackson and Maclin. Maclin and Jackson. We knew we would see it in the future, but now? Well, Curtis was clearly not Curtis the first two games. The Saints gave him no respect last Sunday and Curtis didn't have the quicks or the zip to get into the secondary and make plays. Maclin had two early catches in the game and finished with about a dozen snaps, including two direct snaps in the Wild Eagle formation. Jackson is already a star in the making, and the Chiefs are likely to roll their coverage his way. Can Maclin win one-on-one battles against good NFL cornerbacks?

You know the Eagles want to throw the football. That's what they do. The Eagles have a world of confidence in Kolb. He's going to see a 3-4 defense, one that is going to change its look as often as possible to force Kolb into mistakes. Westbrook will get his carries, as will McCoy. Getting off to a good start is so important to a young group that understands the importance of this football game going into the bye week.

This is, in some ways, a peek into the future. As they say in the NFL, though, the future is now. The youngsters must step up and deliver right here, right now. Maclin goes against Kansas City, his home team from his home state. It is a marvelous opportunity to see him play and witness how far along he is in his maturation.

Otherwise, the Eagles need the entire roster to win this game. Everybody. We will see how deep the team is, and how quickly the team can make adjustments when players are asked to step up.


  • Andy Reid spoke highly on Friday of the Thursday workout the Eagles gave former middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter. It remains to be seen if the Eagles will sign Trotter, 32, but understand this: The workout was not a "courtesy" workout or a let's-kill-time deal. The Eagles are challenging Omar Gaither and Joe Mays to be more physical and win the battle at middle linebacker. Stay tuned on this one.
  • Interesting that Chiefs wide receiver Dwayne Bowe is listed as questionable with a hamstring injury after having only limited participation in practice all week. Losing Bowe would be a serious blow to that offense for this game.
  • Big test for the Eagles' special teams. Kansas City is in the right place at the right time and has already made big plays on special teams the last two weeks.
  • How much will Michael Vick play? Reid said he has a package ready for Vick, but did not go beyond that. My guess is that Vick will play around 8-10 snaps and is going to be asked to run and throw the football.
  • Gaither was surrounded in the locker room after Friday's practice and was peppered with questions about Trotter. "I'm not going to comment on that," said Gaither.
  • I would be shocked if the Chiefs came out throwing the football all around Lincoln Financial Field, but then again, I should know better by now. Quarterback Matt Cassell hasn't practiced much this week, which leads me to believe that Kansas City is going to try to win this game by being more physical than the Eagles.
  • Big loss for the Giants when safety Kenny Phillips went down for the season with a knee injury. So many injuries around the league already ...
  • Who is the gunner with Dimitri Patterson out (hand) and Demps likely out (doubtful with a hamstring injury)? Does Eldra Buckley have the speed to play gunner with Joselio Hanson?
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