The question was a good one, and the answer was interesting.
Why have the Washington Redskins gone from a 6-2 team that appeared playoff-bound to a 7-7 team with almost no chance of playing in the postseason?
"The one obvious thing is just guys getting banged up and injured," Eagles coach Andy Reid said after practice yesterday. "That's a tough thing to put back together. Other than that, they have a good football team."
What was most interesting about Reid's answer is that it suddenly applies to his own football team as the Eagles, 8-5-1, get ready for another must-win game tomorrow against the Redskins at FedEx Field.
Look out at the indoor practice field at the NovaCare Complex yesterday and you'd have noticed some key elements missing from the Eagles' offense.
No Kevin Curtis. No Hank Baskett. No Todd Herremans.
Reid started his post-practice news conference the way he always does, and this injury report wasn't a good one for the Eagles.
"Todd Herremans sprained his ankle in [Thursday's] practice, so he is questionable," Reid said. "Hank Baskett [sprained knee ligament] is out for this game, and then Kevin Curtis [strained calf] is doubtful."
Questionable. Out. Doubtful. Those are the ghosts that can haunt a football team trying to make a late December playoff run.
The biggest concern could be along the already depleted offensive line, where rookie Mike McGlynn might have to play left guard if Herremans is unable to go because of the sprained ankle. Herremans was already dealing with a sprained shoulder that kept him out of practice Wednesday.
"I think [McGlynn] will be fine," Reid said. "He's played all three positions, and I think he understands the offense."
Center Jamaal Jackson still believes Herremans will play tomorrow.
"It has been a rough stretch for old Touchdown Todd, but he's a warrior," Jackson said. "To be honest with you, I think he'll play. This is the same guy who had arthroscopic knee surgery and only missed a couple of days and played the following week. I think Todd will play."
If McGlynn has to play, however, Jackson has confidence in him, too.
"Juan [Castillo] does a great job of getting everybody prepared," Jackson said, referring to the offensive line coach. "We always mess with [McGlynn]. Coach [Castillo] always asks us a question in the meetings, and he'll get it right, and you can just see his face light up like the Kool-Aid man."
McGlynn does play center, guard and tackle, but the only position he has played in an NFL game is left guard, and the first time he did that was Monday night during the Eagles' rout of the Cleveland Browns.
"At the beginning of the season, I was looking, and I was pretty deep on the depth chart," McGlynn said. "Injuries happen, and you have to make sure you make the best of the opportunity that you get."
Injuries have happened at the guard position more than any other for the Eagles this season. Nick Cole is the team's third starter at right guard, following the injured Shawn Andrews and Max Jean-Gilles. McGlynn said the chance to play against the Browns helped a lot, and the rookie from the University of Pittsburgh certainly was excited that he might get to start in an NFL game for the first time.
"Yeah, [playing against Cleveland] definitely helps a lot, and I was going against a pretty good player - Shaun Rogers, a Pro Bowler," McGlynn said. "I'm pretty excited about this weekend. Hopefully, I can get out there and get some experience. I know what's riding on this game, and I want to get into the playoffs just as much as anybody else."
As McGlynn drew a crowd around his locker for the first time in his NFL career, quarterback Donovan McNabb gave him a hard time, referring to him as "Big Greasy," which has been the offensive lineman's nickname since he played at Fitch High School in Austintown, Ohio.
"One of my good buddies . . . started calling me Big Greasy," he said. "I don't know where it came from, but it definitely has stuck. I don't know what it means. I guess I'm an offensive lineman and a gritty guy, that type of thing."
While the Eagles remain hopeful that Herremans will play, it seems less likely that Curtis and Baskett will be able to go against the Redskins, which means Reggie Brown will be back on the field Sunday, possibly even in a starting role.
"We're fortunate to have Reggie here," Reid said. "He's somebody that's played quite a bit and kind of got moved out of the lineup there due to numbers and the chemistry of the other guys playing. But he's a guy that Donovan [McNabb] has confidence in, and he'll step in."
Brown said Thursday he was miffed about why he had been the odd man out among the receivers in the Eagles' previous two games. He said he had tried to find out why he was benched but never got an answer.
"It really just came down to he's banged up and other guys got in there and did well, so we kind of stuck with what we had going," Reid said.
Now, Brown has another chance.
"I think he's excited about playing," Reid said.
Brown did not make an appearance in the locker room after practice yesterday. The Eagles hope he shows up in a big way tomorrow.