Shawn Andrews

was not very forthcoming when it came to specifics about his back problem, but the Eagles' guard indicated there have been occasional setbacks during his rehabilitation.

"It can be troublesome at times," Andrews said yesterday. "You work so hard rehabbing and rehabbing, and you feel it getting loose, you feel it getting better, and then it comes back and gets you just when you think you've made it. If you don't have that [healthy] back, there's not much you can do physically."

Andrews, who missed the second half of the Dallas game and the entire game against the Steelers on Sunday with what the team has called back spasms, said there has been overall improvement. But he didn't practice yesterday and it remains unclear if he'll be available for Sunday night's game against the Bears in Chicago.

Max-Jean Gilles has filled in for Andrews. Because Andrews missed training camp at Lehigh because he was dealing with depression, Gilles had taken a lot of reps with the first team. But Andrews is a two-time Pro Bowl selection.

"Shawn is a great player, and there are very few guys at his position who play like he does," coach Andy Reid said. "At the same time, we're very comfortable with Max in there."

Impressive rookie

So far, the Eagles have contained some of the league's better running backs -

Steven Jackson

of St. Louis,

Marion Barber

of Dallas and

Willie Parker

of Pittsburgh. Next up is the Bears'

Matt Forte,

the first Chicago rookie to start at running back on opening day since

Walter Payton

in 1975.

Forte, who starred at Tulane, has been a dual threat for the Bears with 304 yards rushing and 13 catches for 105 yards.

"Matt Forte has done a super job for us," Bears coach Lovie Smith said. "He has good size, good vision. He can catch the ball out of the backfield and he can run in between the tackles and outside. He's been a complete running back for us, and we're as excited about the different things we can do with him."

Injury report

WR

Kevin Curtis

returned to the practice field yesterday for the first time since he had sports hernia surgery in the preseason. He went through a light workout while on the scout team. . . . RB

Tony Hunt,

who suffered a concussion in the first quarter against the Steelers, said he's feeling "pretty good." He didn't practice. TE

L.J. Smith

(back problems) also missed practice.

Describing Smith's injury, Reid said: "There is no structural damage, which is a good thing, because he did have surgery back there [in 2005]. There is nothing that needs to be surgically repaired. From there, it's just a matter of his lower back calming down enough to where he can function. He's in a lot better shape than he was after the game."

He's a player

Safety

Brian Dawkins

was named NFL defensive player of the week yesterday. He had 10 tackles, a sack, a tackle for a loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery in the Eagles' 15-6 win over Pittsburgh.

The Michigan man

Having finally fired team president

Matt Millen,

the Detroit Lions say they will not replace him until after the season.

One possible candidate: Eagles general manager Tom Heckert.

Heckert is a native of Adrian, Mich., but he is in no hurry to leave the Eagles. He signed a contract extension with the team through 2011 before this season after interviewing for the Atlanta Falcons' GM job in the winter.

Birdseed

After further review, the Elias Sports Bureau credited

Darren Howard

with a full sack, rather than a half sack, on the final sack in the win over Pittsburgh.

Dan Klecko

had originally shared the sack. . . . Under defensive coordinator

Jim Johnson,

the Eagles are 46-22 when holding opponents under 100 yards rushing and 52-41 when they don't.

- Ray Parrillo and Bob Brookover