IRVING, Texas - Two first-quarter injuries, two big promotions for a pair of young Eagles.
Veteran tight end Matt Schobel left yesterday's game on the Birds' first drive, when Dallas safety Ken Hamlin lowered his head and put his helmet into Schobel's facemask at full speed. It was the kind of hit that might draw a league fine, but drew no penalty from referee Larry Nemmers' crew, much to Eagles coach Andy Reid's displeasure.
Schobel went to the locker room with a concussion. With normal starter L.J. Smith already out because of a knee injury, fifth-round rookie Brent Celek had to play every snap the rest of the way in the Eagles' 10-6 victory. He came up with a huge catch for a 29-yard gain to the Dallas 25 on third-and-9, causing the Cowboys to call their final timeout with 2 minutes, 19 seconds left. Celek's three catches for 50 yards were a career high.
A little while after Schobel left the game, right guard Shawn Andrews, who has been battling an MCL injury in his right knee, reinjured that ligament and limped off in favor of Max Jean-Gilles. Jean-Gilles, a fourth-round pick in 2006, hadn't played since the Sept. 23 win over the Lions, and got just a quarter then. He had some shaky moments, with the Cowboys rushing linebacker DeMarcus Ware from odd angles, trying to overload the middle, but Jean-Gilles seemed to get better as the game progressed.
"After the first quarter, I was pretty loose," said Jean-Gilles, who acknowledged he hadn't played extensively since the preseason.
"Ninety-four [Ware] was just walking around everywhere. We couldn't really see where he was going, because we were looking at the ball on the silent count. He got us a couple of times," Jean-Gilles said.
"When I got here [offensive line coach Juan Castillo] said, 'Get ready, you might be up,' " Jean-Gilles said. "I knew Shawn was hurting. Every time he came to the sideline, he was limping. I had to get ready. You've just got to be a man about it. We're professionals. This is why they drafted me."
Celek has played a lot more than Jean-Gilles.
"I've been out there before," he said. "It wasn't like, a shock. I was hoping [Schobel] was all right and he'd be able to come back."
The big catch toward the end was easier than it looked, Celek said.
"Donovan made a heck of a throw," he said. "You couldn't have put it in any more perfectly, and the line blocked perfectly. It was set up for me to succeed."
The Eagles might be the only franchise to have been penalized twice for inadvertent bumps into game officials by nonplaying personnel standing on the sideline. It happened in 2004 against Carolina to team security czar Butch Buchanico, who inadvertently strayed into a side judge's path, and it happened yesterday to backup quarterback A.J. Feeley, who did the same thing on a long Cowboys incompletion in the second quarter. It helped Feeley's postgame mood that the drive he prolonged ended with a Lito Sheppard interception, which set up the game's only touchdown.
"I just got caught up in the game," Feeley said afterward. "It was a deep ball . . . I stepped in the white area . . . It was one of those freak deals. I saw him at the last minute and tried to avoid contact."
Eagles defensive backs coach John Harbaugh interviewed late last week for the vacant UCLA head-coaching job. His brother, Jim, is the head coach at Stanford . . . The Cowboys converted just one of 13 third downs . . . Eagles defensive tackle Montae Reagor was activated for the first time since the Oct. 28 Minnesota game. *