The importance of this Sunday's pivotal game in Dallas is not lost on running back LeSean McCoy just because he's a rookie.
Of course, the Eagles and Cowboys will be playing for the NFC East crown in Dallas, and an Eagles' win would give McCoy and his teammates a coveted first-round bye in the playoffs.
"The stakes are so high with this game and it means so much to us," McCoy said. "It's hard to think of it just as a normal game, just knowing it's not in reality. This could help a lot in us (reaching) our goals that's we've been striving for this whole year. It's definitely a big game."
In the first meeting between the two division rivals this season, a 20-16 Cowboys win on November 8, McCoy was the primary running back, even though Brian Westbrook had practiced all week. Westbrook was held out of that game and McCoy stepped up with 54 yards rushing on 13 carries along with 61 yards receiving, boosted by a long 45-yard catch and run.
This time around, McCoy expects to be less of a featured back and more a part of the ensemble in the Eagles' backfield. Fullback Leonard Weaver has proven to be a more than capable ball carrier and Westbrook's return last week against the Broncos has given the Eagles' three great options on the ground.
"I think they're just trying to slowly get Brian back because it's been a while since he's been out there," McCoy said. "He looked good to me ... Weaver and (I) will try to help him out as much as possible."
In the 30-27 win over the Broncos last week, McCoy only touched the ball 7 times, his least amount of touches since the November 15 loss in San Diego, and his third fewest touches of the season. But that didn't hamper the rookie's production, as he totaled 66 yards on those touches for an average of 9.3 yards per touch. McCoy is hoping that the mix of runners will produce the best in each of them, and that it will be difficult for opposing defenses to prepare for.
"It's kind of a different look for them," he said. "I'm sure they're going to have their hands full trying to stop us."
McCoy and the rest of the triple threat in the Eagles' backfield will be running behind slightly different offensive line for the remainder of the year. Starting center Jamaal Jackson was lost for the year with a torn ACL, so Nick Cole will move from right guard to center and Max Jean-Gilles will be inserted at right guard.
The transition along the offensive line is only the next step in a long line of injuries for the Eagles this season, but if anyone can speak to the ability of players on the Eagles' roster to step up, it's McCoy.
"Nick's been playing well," McCoy said. "He stepped in last week and did a good job.
"It's one of those things where a guy steps out and it's an opportunity for (someone else), so that person has to step up."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 11:00 a.m., December 31