Uncertainty regarding the long-term health of middle linebacker Omar Gaither contributed to the team swinging a deal for veteran Will Witherspoon prior to Tuesday's 4 p.m. NFL trade deadline.
"We started off the season thinking we were in pretty good shape at the MIKE linebacker spot," head coach Andy Reid said in a conference call on Tuesday. "We've been banged up a little bit so we needed to make this move to stay strong. We might not have been quite as aggressive had we not had the injuries there."
Gaither, meanwhile, is scheduled to see a foot specialist on Wednesday for further evaluation of a foot sprain he suffered in Sunday's loss to Oakland. The head coach all but ruled him out for this week's game at Washington.
"It doesn't look like Omar's going to be able to go for a little bit here," Reid said. "I don't think he'll be there Monday."
The addition of Witherspoon, Reid said, will not impact Jeremiah Trotter's role. Although in Witherspoon, Reid says the team landed a three-down linebacker who can play both the middle and weakside positions.
"I think Omar was and is talented at doing that, but I think to add another guy in there that can be a three-down-type player is important," Reid said. "I think that's a nice addition to the group there. I look at Will as a starter, just like I look at Omar."
More importantly, Reid said Witherspoon is a cover linebacker who has the flexibility to cover running backs and tight ends, the latter of which have combined for 15 catches for 241 yards and three touchdowns over the last two games against Philadelphia.
The transition for Witherspoon figures to be a smooth one since he played for former Eagles assistant Steve Spagnuolo, now the head coach in St. Louis.
A former Carolina Panther, Reid said Witherspoon had been on the team's radar when he was a free agent in 2006.
"We've always thought he was a very good player and having played against him I kind of know that first-hand," Reid said.
Drafted in the third round of the 2002 NFL Draft, Witherspoon replaced Dan Morgan at middle linebacker halfway through the season after Morgan went down with injury. He finished the season with 71 tackles and 1.5 sacks. Witherspoon played both in the middle and on the weak side in St. Louis.
Witherspoon bruised his tailbone in the Rams' overtime loss to Jacksonville last Sunday, but Reid said he "should be fine."
-- Posted by Bob Kent, 6:09 p.m., October 20