With Jamaal Jackson's season-ending ACL injury, the Eagles have to shuffle around some pieces along the offensive line. Nick Cole, who has started all 15 games this season at the two guard spots, will slide from right guard to center and Max Jean-Gilles will fill the void left at right guard.
When asked if there could be a rotation at right guard, head coach Andy Reid said that the position is Jean-Gilles'.
"Max is going to play," he said.
Luckily, the Eagles have the luxury of quality depth along the offensive line. Jean-Gilles has already started four games this season at right guard, and he started 10 games in 2008.
"This is football," Jean-Gilles said, "when a man goes down another man steps up and it's an opportunity. I give thanks to my (offensive line) coach (Juan Castillo) who prepares me every day just to make sure, because you never know what's going to happen."
Jean-Gilles also has plenty of experience playing alongside Cole and right tackle Winston Justice. Since all three players came to the Eagles as rookies in 2006, they have practiced together as part of the same unit for years.
"When I first got here that's who I was playing with, so it's like back to natural," Jean-Gilles said. "It's nothing new to me so I'm confident and comfortable."
While Jean-Gilles and the rest of the offensive line feel well-prepared, they will face a stern test on Sunday in a Cowboys' defense that has allowed only 16.7 points per game, third best in the league.
"They're a 3-4 defense," Jean-Gilles said. "They hustle. They're aggressive so it's all about man-to-man. Nobody plays them man-to-man and we're going to play them man-to-man so it's going to be a nice challenge."
One man who will pose a serious challenge, especially for the interior offensive line, is Cowboys' nose tackle Jay Ratliff. Ratliff was one of six Cowboys named to the Pro Bowl on Tuesday, and he was a menace in the first meeting between the Eagles and Cowboys this season, sacking Donovan McNabb twice.
"I think he's one of the best defensive tackle in the NFL," Jean-Gilles said. "He's so quick off the ball and you get so many moves, so we've got a game plan for him."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 4:56 p.m., December 30