After the Eagles fell to 3-8 following their 30-22 loss to the Carolina Panthers, thereby guaranteeing the team won't improve on last season's 8-8 record, head coach Andy Reid had no choice but to look forward. As is Reid's way, there were no excuses for the team's performance, only a renewed focus on fixing the problems that have befallen the last-place Eagles.
"We're going to keep battling," Reid said. "I can only control what I can control, and that's getting better as a football team. I've got to do a better job of that obviously with how we've played here. I'm not worried about all the other things, I'm worried about winning football games and making sure that I get my players coached up."
There were bright spots for the Eagles on Monday night, specifically in the performance of some of the team's young players, notably running back Bryce Brown. Making his first career start, Brown ran roughshod on the Panthers, totaling 178 yards on 19 carries, including a sparkling 65-yard touchdown run. But Brown also lost two fumbles and fellow rookie Brandon Boykin lost another, helping to account for the eight-point difference in the final score.
"I thought Bryce did some good things," said Reid. "He's a young guy and he'll learn from this, he's a smart kid. But at the moment, (the turnovers) cost us. As with Boykin, he had his best return there and ended up with the fumble, that's a shame. He's getting better every week as a nickel back and then we called on him to day to do some returns and he had a couple, with that one being his best one. We've got to learn. We've got young guys who are playing here. We understand that we've got eight losses. We completely understand that. What we're going to do is continue to fight and continue to get better and eliminate some of these mistakes that we're making and get better as a football team."
The Eagles played much of the game without two of their better players: wide receiver DeSean Jackson and defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. Jackson suffered a rib cartilage injury along with some swelling on his chest and will undergo an MRI and a CT scan Tuesday morning. Cox incurred a low back contusion, Reid said, and will also have a CT scan Tuesday morning.
As for the two Pro Bowl members of the backfield who made way for the rookie tandem of Brown and Nick Foles, neither Michael Vick nor LeSean McCoy has yet been cleared to play following their respective concussions. McCoy is the further away of the two, having failed to reach the baseline status yet, meaning he isn't quite ready to begin the first of five recovery stages. Vick, meanwhile, has still yet to pass the Impact test. The Eagles next play Sunday night in Dallas against the Cowboys.
Reid was asked whether Vick has a chance to start this week.
"We've got to get him healthy here, see where he's at," Reid said. "He took another test today, didn't pass it. I'm not going to put him at risk, that's not where we're going with this thing."
Increased action for Foles would only continue the string of playing time for young players, especially rookies, this season for the Eagles. Eleven players who had never taken an NFL snap before this season played in a significant capacity for the Eagles against the Panthers, and with any hopes of a playoff run all but evaporated, that trend is likely to continue.
"The young guys, if they're available to play, we'll put them in. If that's the situation, we won't hesitate to do that," Reid said. "Whatever the scenario is, the young guys are having an opportunity. They're all having a great experience here, having an opportunity to play."
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