Beyond a report on the litany of injured Eagles, head coach Andy Reid also hinted Friday that safety Colt Anderson has earned the opportunity to continue starting over the final two games even as Kurt Coleman is expected to return to full health. Anderson, the special teams ace who is just over a year removed from ACL surgery, has started the last two games for the Eagles in Coleman's absence and has impressed enough to stay on the job for now.
"I think you could say that," Reid said. "Now, listen, I haven't sat down and talked with [defensive coordinator] Todd [Bowles] about that but I would tell you that he's played good football. Good enough to be considered at keeping him in that position."
As for the aforementioned injury report, tight end Clay Harbor (back), fullback Stanley Havili (hamstring), tight end Brent Celek (concussion), Coleman (sternum), running back Chris Polk (toe) and quarterback Michael Vick (concussion) are all expected to be ready to go in preparation for next Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins. Celek, like Vick, has already been fully cleared of his concussion symptoms and has been cleared by an independent neurologist.
The same cannot be said for running back LeSean McCoy, who is expected to seek that clearance on Tuesday, Reid said.
Cornerback Brandon Hughes was the victim of a two-fold illegal hit during the tail end of Thursday night's loss to the Cincinnati Bengals, a hit that eventually resulted in a hospital visit for a lung contusion. Hughes was subsequently released from the hospital and "checked out," Reid said.
The final injury note pertains to left guard Evan Mathis, the lone remaining projected starter on the offensive line, who has been hampered by an ankle injury.
"He's doing a little bit better today," Reid said. "He's a tough kid and he's worked through the ankle situation and I'm sure he'll continue to do that. There will be some tweaks here and there with it but he battled through it and I'd say he's had one of the better years of his career. I know the young guys feed off of that and look up to him."
As for Vick, Reid said that he hasn't yet decided whether the dynamic left-hander will be active as the backup quarterback this week or not. Reid first wants to see how Vick handles the week of practice.
"I haven't gotten that far yet, but he'll be able to practice," said Reid. "I've got to look at the numbers and how that goes. So, we'll see."
Though Thursday night's 34-13 loss was certainly a disappointment, the performance of the defense offered some good to take away. After all, each of the Bengals' scoring drives was a direct result of an Eagles turnover (or blocked punt) and began in Eagles' territory. The defensive line also broke out with six sacks and forced two takeaways. The defense has surely taken a step forward over the last two games, which coincides with the change along the defensive line.
"The guys are playing the combination game," Reid said of the post-wide-nine defense. "They're playing both the run and the pass and doing a good job of transitioning from their gap responsibilities for the run into the pass game, but still being able to hold your ground on the run. They're still being put into a nine technique in pass situations but they're being kicked down in a couple different looks in situations where it could be run or pass.
"It takes a bit of pressure off the safeties in particular, but in all those toss-cracks that you were seeing, it takes it off the corner in that particular play. It allows them to do a little bit better things with what they can do physically."
One of the players who has emerged of late is defensive end Brandon Graham, who led the Eagles with 2.5 sacks on Thursday night. Reid believes that Graham can keep up that pace as he moves forward in his career.
"Yeah, I do," he said. "You're talking about one of the faster guys on the football team and explosive. He's got speed, and he's got a good attitude. It's just a matter of getting him in there and giving him an opportunity."
Finally, Reid analyzed the difference in play from linebacker Mychal Kendricks, who has played the last two games at what Reid says is Kendricks' "natural position," weakside linebacker, after beginning the season on the strong side. Kendricks began on the strong side, Reid said, because the responsibilities overlap with Kendricks' responsibilites in nickel. Now that Kendricks has established himself in the defense, the coaching staff felt he could now handle the dual roles.
"He had a couple nice breakups yesterday in nickel coverage," Reid said. "On one of them he was covering the tight end and was spectacular, which was the SAM linebacker position [and] the same one before the switch. But at WILL he looks more comfortable. That's kind of his natural position. I thought he did a good job there for the most part yesterday."
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