Get out your No. 20 jerseys, Brian Dawkins is coming home.
The former Eagles safety may play for the enemy now, but there are sure to be plenty of No. 20s at the Linc on Sunday when the Eagles host Dawkins' Denver Broncos.
"I think it will be neat for him to come back here," Eagles coach Andy Reid said today. "It think the crowd will be great for him and all that."
Dawkins left in the off-season via free agency, but he also left amid a cloud of controversy. It's become a he-said-organization-said-type story, but the gist of Dawkins' leaving Philadelphia had a lot to do with money. The 13-year Eagle ended up getting a better deal from the Broncos than what the Eagles were offering and he left.
"It worked out great for Brian," Reid said. "That's what's important there. It was something that Denver needed to do. Listen, it worked out fine for him and his family. Would we have loved to have kept him here? Yeah. But they did a nice job with it."
Dawkins has played a prominent role for the 8-6 Broncos. He's second on the team with 100 tackles, has seven tackles for loss and two interceptions.
So how did things work out for the 10-4, playoff-bound Eagles?
"We've done OK," Reid said. "We've won a couple games."
The Eagles, though, have had a hard time replacing Dawkins in the secondary. And they didn't bring Jeremiah Trotter back because they thought he would become a Pro Bowler again. The defense was missing some of the fire and leadership Dawkins provided. Reid was asked what he's missed most about Dawkins.
"First of all, you miss him as a person," Reid said. "He's a great guy. He was a big part of us getting to where we have gotten as an organization. To say I don't miss him on a daily basis, I used to enjoy seeing him and being around him. He brought a lot of energy. I have nothing but good things to say about he or [Correll Buckhalter]. Those were two of my favorite guys. They're doing a heck of job for Denver now."
Buckhalter, the Eagles' second-leading rusher last season, also left this past off-season.
There will be a lot of emotion in the stadium but it probably won't rival what both Dawkins and his former teammates will feel in their gut before the game.
"It's going to be really emotional, especially at the beginning of the game," safety Quintin Mikell said. "I think that once the first hit happens, everything will go away. Once that first kickoff happens, it will all go away."
Reid equated it to a fight between brothers.
"I always say that when you're a kid and you get into a fight with your brother, for a second there it's one of the most vicious fights you've ever been in and then you love each other afterwards," he said. "That's what this will be."
In other Eagles-related news, Reid said that he anticipates Brian Westbrook being cleared tomorrow to return to action this Sunday. The running back will undergo tests tomorrow. Concussions have sidelined Westbrook in seven of the last eight games.
Jeremy Maclin will return to practice on Wednesday, but Reid could not predict if the wide receiver's foot would be healed enough for him to return to game action. Maclin missed Sunday's 27-13 win over the 49ers.