BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The big-man focus was not entirely on Shawn Andrews yesterday as the Eagles awaited the arrival of their two-time Pro Bowl guard at Lehigh University.

Tra Thomas got some of the attention, too, after the starting left tackle had to leave practice because of back spasms.

Andrews, absent since the start of training camp because of depression, arrived yesterday afternoon and remained out of sight from the practice fields. It was not known when he would put on a uniform and join his teammates.

The 25-year-old guard was removed from the reserved/did-not-report list and added to the 80-man roster. However, Andrews was assigned to the physically-unable-to-perform list, where he will remain until coach Andy Reid decides he is ready to return.

"I want to see him first before I make any judgment there," Reid said. "I know he's been working out, but I just want to sit down and talk to him face-to-face and make sure everything is set up for him here so he can be successful."

Andrews was examined by doctors Thursday and Friday after publicly admitting he was depressed earlier in the week. Reid said he wants to see what kind of physical and mental condition Andrews is in. The head coach did not sound as though he was in a hurry to get his starting left guard back on the field.

"I think [conditioning] is important," Reid said. "I'm going to gradually feed him back in. I just want to see how he's doing. That's my primary focus right now. Then we'll see about those other things. We'll see where they fall in."

Neither Thomas nor Reid seemed overly concerned about the back spasms, although the left tackle has had a history of back issues dating to the 2003 season when he missed a Monday night game in Miami. He also missed the final six games in 2005 because of a back problem that required surgery.

"It happens periodically," Reid said. "He made it through this much of camp without [a problem], which he hasn't done [in the past]. It has always happened sooner than this. I guess I'm looking for a positive in the situation. I expect him to get out and be ready to go here in the next little bit."

Thomas gave his reassurance as he left the locker room after the morning practice.

"Feeling good, feeling good, feeling good," he said.

After Thomas left the morning practice, the Eagles' first-team offensive line bore little resemblance to the five-man unit that the team anticipated would open the season against the St. Louis Rams.

Only right tackle Jon Runyan and center Jamaal Jackson were in the right place. Max Jean-Gilles was still getting the repetitions in place of Andrews, while Todd Herremans slid from left guard to left tackle. Scott Young replaced Herremans at left guard.

It is hard to miss Thomas when he is on the field - he is 6-foot-7 and 335 pounds. Of course, it was even harder for the Eagles not to miss Thomas last year when he could not play in the team's Week 4 game against the New York Giants.

Thomas was replaced in the starting lineup by Winston Justice in that infamous game at Giants Stadium when quarterback Donovan McNabb was sacked 12 times during a 16-3 Eagles loss. Reid said afterward that Justice did not deserve all of the blame for what happened, but the second-year tackle deserved a good portion of it.

If Thomas cannot play again this season at any point, it appears as if Herremans will move from guard to tackle, which is the position he played as a rookie in 2005. Reid said Justice is going to concentrate on playing right tackle while rookie King Dunlap works at left tackle. Dunlap, in fact, worked with the first-team offense during the Eagles' rain-induced indoor practice yesterday afternoon.

Herremans "enjoys starting at guard, but if you asked him his choice . . . he's going to tell you tackle," Reid said. "That's what he sees himself as. He's doing a heck of a job right now at guard, too. He's having his best camp so far."

Herremans admitted that he loves playing tackle, which was his position at Saginaw Valley State.

"With Tra out there, I'd rather play guard, but if Tra isn't out there, I'd rather play tackle," Herremans said. "I feel like it's a little easier on your body, and you get to use a little more of your athleticism at tackle instead of brute force. I was a little rusty at it today."

At one point during the off-season, Reid said he felt as though Andrews could one day move to left tackle and be an elite player at that position.

"I think Shawn could be a great left tackle," Reid said. "I think he could step in and be one of the better left tackles in this league. He just hasn't had a chance to work there."

Andrews has not worked at all in this training camp and it still is not known exactly when he will. But he is on the Lehigh campus.

"I've been anxious ever since we got to camp to see Shawn," Herremans said. "I can't wait for him to get back."

Maybe at some point before the start of this season, the Eagles will get their five projected starting offensive linemen on the field at the same time. They were not even close to doing that yesterday.

at Bob Brookover's blog: http://go.philly.com/birdseye

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