BEFORE YESTERDAY, the most excited Mike McGlynn ever looked in the NovaCare locker room was after last week's Saturday practice, as McGlynn dressed hurriedly so he could hustle over to the Wachovia Center to watch from a luxury box as his beloved Pittsburgh Penguins took on the Flyers.
That adventure didn't turn out so great; the Flyers won, 6-3. But McGlynn, the fourth-round rookie guard from Pitt, was back in fine spirits yesterday, after spending the final substantive practice of the week subbing for left guard Todd Herremans on the first unit.
Herremans, already bothered by a shoulder injury, sprained an ankle in Thursday's practice, coach Andy Reid said. Reid listed Herremans as "questionable" for tomorrow's game at Washington. McGlynn, who began the season three guards deep on the depth chart, only slightly more likely to play than the equipment manager, might be a starter - though teammates said they expected Herremans to try to play.
In any event, McGlynn has a decent chance of supplementing the total of 15 NFL snaps he has amassed so far, all of them coming in a mopup role Monday night against Cleveland.
"Pretty exciting, about this weekend," said McGlynn, 6-4, 311, who looks a little like Kevin on "The Office" and who contends he does not know why he has carried the nickname "the Big Greasy" since high school, in Austintown, Ohio. "It's been a grind, staying up, staying focused, realizing that injuries happen and your day could come.
"I know what's riding on this game, and I want to get to the playoffs as much as anybody else."
Center Jamaal Jackson lauded McGlynn's versatility - he plays all three o-line positions - and said he brings "enthusiasm."
"We always mess with him," Jackson said. "Coach [Juan Castillo] will ask him a question in a meeting, you can see his face light up like the Kool-Aid man, or something."
McGlynn said he thought having veterans on either side - Tra Thomas at left tackle and Jackson at center - would be a big help. Most weeks, he practices a little at each spot, not knowing where he might be needed. This week, he has been at left guard.
"It means everything to me. I've been working hard all year, and I think I'm ready for the opportunity," McGlynn said.
Jackson said Castillo "does a great job of getting everyone prepared."
"We feel confident about [McGlynn]," Jackson said. "He did pretty good [in practice] this week."
Jackson said McGlynn shows "a little Jon Runyan out there." He also used the word "gritty" to describe the rookie. Opponents have used much more pungent terms to describe Runyan.
"I've watched him a long time," McGlynn said of Runyan, the right tackle expected to start in his 191st successive game tomorrow, despite a knee injury. "I definitely pattern myself a little bit after him. Playing hard, and to be smart about it, too - you've got to know when to take your shots, when it's appropriate."
Jackson noted that "it's been a rough stretch for old 'Touchdown Todd' " - Herremans, who caught a TD pass at Seattle Nov. 2, did not start the next game because he'd missed a meeting. Then, 2 weeks ago at the Giants, he took some razzing after missing a tackle on a blocked field goal that was run back for a touchdown, before getting injured twice this week, the shoulder injury Monday and the ankle Thursday.
"He's a warrior; to be honest with you, I think he'll play. This is the same guy who had arthroscopic knee surgery [during the bye week in 2007] and played the following week. I think Todd'll play," Jackson said.
Thomas also said he expects Herremans to play. He said if that proves not to be the case, his advice for McGlynn would be to "play hard."
When the season began, Max Jean-Gilles was the top sub at guard. He became a starter after right guard Shawn Andrews went down with a back injury in the second game. Jean-Gilles broke his right ankle Nov. 27 against Arizona, which made backup center Nick Cole the starting right guard. McGlynn is the next guy up.
Jean-Gilles visited the locker room yesterday, his right leg immobilized in a brace-cast contraption. He had a little cart with a hand brake to roll his leg around in. Jean-Gilles said he won't be back on the field for about 6 months.
"I heard it snap," Jean-Gilles said, when asked about the night he went down. "I couldn't even lift it up on my own; I just knew it was broken."
Andy Reid said wide receiver Hank Baskett (knee) is out, and wide receiver Kevin Curtis (calf) is doubtful for tomorrow.
That makes it inevitable that Reggie Brown will indeed return to the wideout corps, and might very well start alongside DeSean Jackson, since the Eagles like Jason Avant as a slot receiver.
On Thursday, Brown told reporters to ask Reid why Brown has been inactive the last 2 weeks. When a reporter did so yesterday, Reid's response was "Thanks for that."
But in the course of answering other questions about Brown yesterday, Reid said: "Reggie's done a good job for us; that's not the issue there. It really just came down to he [was] banged up and other guys got in there and did well, and we kind of stuck with what we had going."
Brown began the season as a starter; coming into 2008, he'd started 40 of a possible 48 games in his Eagles career.
Reid was asked whether he thought Brown saw this as an opportunity to put himself back in the mix. After the Nov. 23 loss at Baltimore, Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg cut down from using six wideouts in the offense to using four, a move that excluded Brown.
"I think he's excited about playing, that's what I think," Reid said. *