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Tough Teams, Good Teams Survive Injuries

Brian Westbrook may or may not play on Sunday night in Chicago. Same with L.J. Smith and Shawn Andrews and Donovan McNabb and Tony Hunt. An all-star list of players missed practice on Wednesday, so you might think there is a ripple of concern sweeping across the Eagles' locker room. Not happening. Not now. Not ever. Injuries happen. The strong survive. The Eagles plan on surviving whatever hits them this year.

We've learned a lot about the Eagles already this season. This is a team with a lot of chemistry, certainly a lot of talent and a team that has some young talent bursting through the seams. I'm reminded of the 2001 Eagles, a group that knew early in the season that it was a good team and a team that played outstanding football all the way to the NFC Championship Game in St. Louis.

It is far too premature to say with any degree of certainty if, for example, Westbrook can play. He spoke with confidence and conviction on Wednesday that he would play in Chicago, that his ankle injury is much improved since Sunday, that he is going to do everything it takes to give it his best shot.

Andy Reid understands all of that, which is why he won't budge until required to discuss injuries. He says it is "a race" until Sunday to see if Westbrook can play. Ditto McNabb and Andrews and Smith. Hunt sounds like he maybe a bit closer to returning to practice.

Anyway, the injured players have their disciplines to follow with head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder and his staff. There is no group better in the league at giving players the best, most aggressive treatment. All of the injured players attend meetings and are required to know their playbooks. They have the mental part of Sunday in check. Burkholder and his crew do the best job in the NFL making sure the physical part is in great hands.

Whether or not those players are on the field Sunday night, the Eagles are going in to Chicago to win. Kevin Kolb took the reps at quarterback on Wednesday and will benefit in the long run. Correll Buckhalter is sharp as a tack now after playing extensively on Sunday. Brent Celek is ready after a stint as a starter late last season. Lorenzo Booker has his game ready should he play extended time against the Bears, and Max Jean-Gilles is only going to improve as he plays.

Hey, it is that time of the year in the league. No team is healthy. The Bears had their own starter-laden group out for Wednesday's practice -- defensive linemen Tommie Harris and Alex Brown, wide receiver/return man Devin Hester and cornerback Nathan Vasher. Another group, including linebacker Lance Briggs, safety Mike Brown and linebacker Brian Urlacher, had limited participation.

Which means ...

That when the injury report and game status is reported on Friday, everybody will pay strict attention. And that the backups on both teams' rosters are going to have a lot of reps in practice this week.

Stay tuned, then. I think at least a couple of the players on the Eagles' injury list will play on Sunday night. But I don't know. And I'm not going to be concerned with the injured players when there are so many other things to consider with this team.


Wide receiver Kevin Curtis practiced on Wednesday. We saw him during the warm-up period and he looked good. Curtis ran with the scout team, meaning he ran the routes that the Eagles expect to see from the Bears' receivers on Sunday. Curtis came through practice without any setbacks and is going to practice again on Thursday.

What's interesting is that Curtis isn't ruled out for Sunday night, although he would seem to be a long, long shot. Still, it's not hard to imagine Curtis back on the field in the near future. Maybe against Washington in two Sundays. I don't know. I just know that adding Curtis is big for this offense. Curtis was the No. 1 receiver on last year's team. Add him into the group led by DeSean Jackson and the Eagles have quite a receiver corps.


After a review by league officials, defensive end Darren Howard was awarded an extra 1/2 sack during Sunday's game against Pittsburgh and Dan Klecko lost the 1/2 sack he had in that game. Howard now has 2 1/2 sacks this season, a team high.

Trent Cole was not awarded a sack in the end zone on the Ben Roethlisberger safety because penalties aren't overturned.

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