These days, nothing gets Reggie Brown moving quite as quickly as the sight of a reporter bearing down on his locker stall.
So it was that Brown abruptly finished a text message, stood up and walked out of the NovaCare locker room yesterday, apparently discovering pressing weight-room business, though he was dressed in jeans and a white hoodie. As he fled, Brown answered a few questions from the pursuing reporter.
"I don't know what's going on," Brown said, when asked about being healthy but inactive for Sunday's game at the Giants. He said he neither asked for nor was given a reason for his disappearance from the offense.
"I'm not going to get an answer," he said.
Asked the same question on Sunday, Brown said he didn't think there was anything he could do to get himself back in the receiver rotation.
Brown was a starting wideout when training camp convened, but groin and hamstring injuries pushed him down the pecking order, especially after Kevin Curtis returned from sports-hernia surgery. Brown has 13 catches this season, 10 of them in the Chicago and Washington games, on Sept. 28 and Oct. 5. He was active but did not catch a pass in the Baltimore and Arizona games; after the Eagles defeated Arizona, Eagles coach Andy Reid spoke of having cut down the receiving corps during games from six to four players, to try to find some rhythm and continuity. Greg Lewis and Brown were the two receivers left out of the mix. Sunday, when cornerback Asante Samuel returned after a one-game absence, Reid decided he didn't really need to activate all six wideouts, especially since Brown has no special-teams role.
When the Eagles gave Brown $10 million in bonus money in 2006, to extend his contract through 2014, they thought they were helping lay their foundation for the future. The other young players they extended around the same time were defensive tackle Mike Patterson and defensive end Trent Cole. Cole went to the Pro Bowl last year, and the Eagles thought Patterson could have gone. Both are well-established, long-term starters.
But Brown didn't really make the kind of leap the Eagles imagined after he set a team record (broken this year by DeSean Jackson) for a rookie receiver, with 43 catches for 571 yards. He caught 46 passes for 816 yards in '06 and 61 for 780 last year. Not bad, but not numbers you'd associate with a guy who seemed on track to develop into a No. 1 receiver, a guy Reid called "one of the hardest workers we have on our football team" when Brown signed the extension.
Here is what then-Eagles corner Rod Hood had to say about Brown in the offseason following Brown's rookie year:
"With his athletic ability and his hard work . . . I would compare him to a bigger Santana Moss. I can see him, too, in a Marvin Harrison role. Real quick, fast, runs good routes. He's going to come into his own this year."
Yesterday, the reporter chasing Brown wondered whether he hadn't thought he'd be a star by now.
"You can't be a star if you can't get on the field," Brown replied, which is true, as far as it goes.
The reporter asked how Brown sees his situation, going forward.
"I'm still going forward, working hard," he said.
It might or might not mean something that in 2005, 26 of Brown's 43 catches came in the final seven games, after Donovan McNabb was lost for the season with a sports hernia. And in 2006, 17 of Brown's 46 catches came in the final five games, after McNabb tore his anterior cruciate ligament. Of course, they then spent the whole 2007 season together.
Brown has a weekly Monday night radio show on WMGK, done in tandem with the station's nightly "Get the Led Out" Led Zeppelin hour. That's an odd mix, the quiet, reserved African-American wideout from Georgia and Robert Plant's castrato wail. This past Monday, Brown and the show's host, Ray Koob, talked about the victory over the Giants and Brown's razzing of Giants receiver Domenik Hixon, from the bench, after Hixon dropped a long bomb from Eli Manning. They talked about how Brown dressed warmly for the cold, blustery afternoon.They did not discuss the fact Brown did not play in the game.
Yesterday, as Brown stepped into the weight room, off-limits to reporters, McNabb advised the persistent reporter to "ask Andy."
Reid, in fact, was asked about Brown, in the context of whether the concussion Curtis suffered Sunday might open up some playing time.
"We'll see how it works out this week," Reid said.
Winston Justice said Justin Tuck "just jumped up and blocked" the field goal that Kevin Dockery ran in for a Giants touchdown Sunday. "I could probably have pushed him back more, so he wouldn't have been able to block it," Justice allowed . . . The Eagles announced a new sponsorship deal with Teva Specialty Pharmaceuticals, which makes an asthma inhaler that does not use chlorofluorocarbons, which damage the ozone layer. Eagles head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder said 10 current Eagles use inhalers . . . Running back Brian Westbrook (knee, ankle) was, as usual, a nonparticipant in the indoor practice yesterday. Ditto tight end L.J. Smith, right guard Shawn Andrews and wide receiver Kevin Curtis (concussion) . . . Running back Correll Buckhalter (knee) was a limited practice participant, but said he expects to play Monday night against the Browns. *