J.R. Reed will not know what kind of impression he made on the Eagles until it's time for the team to make him an offer as a restricted free agent in February.
He does know exactly what kind of impact he had on Buffalo Bills receiver Lee Evans yesterday in the Eagles' season finale.
A ferocious hit by Reed just before the two-minute warning in the second quarter not only stopped Evans 2 yards shy of a first down on a third-and-4 play from the Eagles' 12-yard line, but also sent Buffalo's top wide receiver out of the game.
"He went to the sidelines," Reed said. "He went to the locker room. It was just like [Randy] Moss. He didn't want to catch anymore, either."
Evans left with a chest bruise and did not return.
For a guy who couldn't get an invitation to an NFL training camp last summer and who was re-signed by the Eagles primarily as a returner, Reed had an outstanding season.
In addition to his big hit yesterday on Evans, he also had one on Moss in the Eagles' loss at New England. Moss did not catch any passes after being hit by Reed.
Reed, drafted by the Eagles in the fourth round in 2004, seems to have his career back on course after missing the entire 2005 season because of freak leg and foot injuries he suffered in the off-season.
"I've been cut five times in the last 12 months, so I've been everywhere and I'm trying to find a home," he said. "I hope this is it. I don't want to go anywhere. I don't think the injuries are an issue.
"I don't think my size is an issue. I think people are finally going to start looking at me as a football player and not as a person with a messed up leg or a person that's under 6-foot. Hopefully, I'm past that stigma."
Cornerback Sheldon Brown isn't buying into the carryover effect. He doesn't believe the Eagles season-ending three-game winning streak will provide momentum for next season.
"I don't think so," he said. "You never know what the chemistry of the football team is going to be. You don't know who is not going to be here. You don't know what's going to happen in the off-season. But it's positive for the guys who did get an opportunity to play.
"But if you're telling me it's going to be the same guys in this locker room playing next year, yeah, it means a lot. But I don't think you can tell me that," Brown said.
Andy Reid knew all week he was going to have rookie Kevin Kolb as the backup quarterback with A.J. Feeley as the emergency signal-caller. He just didn't want to media to know.
"I just didn't want [the media] making a big stink about it and I didn't have to answer all of your questions," Reid said. "A.J. has had an opportunity to play, and I thought if we got into a position where we could get Kevin in, this would allow us to do it and still have A.J. back there as a backup if something were to happen to Kevin."
In other words, Kolb would have seen action if the Eagles had built a safe enough lead in the 17-9 win. But the likelihood of that happening pretty much disappeared when Brian Westbrook sat out most of the second half.
The Eagles' ironman, right tackle Jon Runyan, left the game after the second play from scrimmage with a concussion and did not return. However, his streak of consecutive starts remained intact. Runyan will begin next season with 176 straight starts, the third-longest active streak in the NFL behind Brett Favre and Derrick Brooks, assuming that neither retires.
Justice at last.
Since September, when the Eagles gave up an NFL record-tying 12 sacks to the Giants in his debut as a starter, tackle Winston Justice has been hoping for another chance to play. He needed a better memory to take into his off-season.
"It means a lot," Justice said after he replaced Runyan on the third offensive play of the game. "I didn't practice that much on the right side, but I got a chance to come in for Runyan, and I think I showed I can play better."
Justice, a second-year pro out of Southern Cal, was pressed into service against the Giants when left tackle William Thomas had back problems. Giants defensive end Osi Umenyiora had six sacks of Donovan McNabb in that game.
It was such a rough night for Justice, Reid felt compelled to point out that he was responsible for "only" four of Umenyiora's sacks.
Against the Bills, Reid said, "I thought he did a good job. He had a couple of penalties there, but he did a nice job other than that."
Justice had one false-start penalty. He also was called for holding, but that penalty was declined by the Bills.
"There are still some mental things I have to work on," Justice said. "There's a lot I can do to get better."
But overall he was pleased, especially with how he handled the challenge of switching sides.
"It's not as easy as people think," Justice said. "You have to change everything your body is used to doing."
Eagles receiver Kevin Curtis became the first player in NFL history to recover teammates' fumbles for touchdowns in two consecutive games. After falling on a McNabb fumble in New Orleans last week, Curtis provided the same service for Reggie Brown in the third quarter yesterday.
"Just in the right place at the right time," Curtis said. "It's strange, because I don't remember ever recovering any fumbles before this."
Marv Levy is preparing to step down as general manager of the Bills, according to numerous reports.
Citing multiple unidentified sources, Buffalo's WIVB-TV reported that the Bills and the 82-year-old Levy had reached "a mutual decision" that he would retire after concluding his second year on the job. The station reported an announcement could come as early as this week.
ESPN.com reported that the decision was reached after the Hall of Fame coach met this week with Bills owner Ralph Wilson.
Buffalo missed the playoffs for an eighth straight year to establish the longest drought in franchise history.
Levy was not immediately available for comment. He retired as the team's coach after the 1997 season. In 11-plus seasons, Levy had a 112-70 record, becoming the franchise's winningest coach.
The Eagles finished the season at minus-eight in turnover differential after losing the football on an interception and a fumble yesterday. For the fifth time this season, the Eagles failed to force a turnover. . . . Eagles linebacker Akeem Jordan became the first player from James Madison University to start in an NFL game since receiver Macey Brooks started three for the Bears in 2000.