The Eagles are expected to announce within the next day or 2 that former Cowboys defensive coordinator Brian Stewart has been added to the Birds' defensive staff.

News of Stewart's hiring was broken Saturday on the blog of Dallas' WFAA-TV. A source close to the situation confirmed to the Daily News that the move was pending. Presumably, Stewart will help with the secondary, where Sean McDermott has been stretched thin, as he fills in for defensive coordinator Jim Johnson. Johnson has taken an indefinite leave of absence to fight metastasized melanoma.

According to Dave Spadaro on the Eagles' Web site, Stewart has already gone to work, alongside assisant secondary coach Otis Smith, in the rookie camp workouts the past 2 weeks. The fact the Eagles feel they need to hire someone would seem to mean that they don't anticipate Johnson returning anytime soon.

Stewart, who lost his job in the fallout from the Cowboys' season-ending 44-6 loss to the host Eagles, has a longstanding connection to Eagles coach Andy Reid, as blogger Matt Mosley pointed out over the weekend.

Mosley wrote that Reid and Stewart "have remained close since they were at Northern Arizona together in the mid-1980s. Reid coached the offensive line and Stewart played cornerback. Both men grew up in Los Angeles and spent time at junior colleges in the area."

Stewart came to Dallas from San Diego with Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips. Some Dallas observers felt he was made a scapegoat for defensive decisions made by Phillips, who took over the defensive play-calling down the stretch last season. *

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