THE EAGLES' newest tight end, Tony Curtis, won't be able to practice fully for a week or so because of a high-ankle sprain.
That takes Curtis past the cutdown to 75, next Tuesday. Very possibly, signing a guy this late in camp when you know he isn't healthy means the Birds intend for Curtis to be on their regular-season roster, backing up Brent Celek, along with either vet Matt Schobel or undrafted rookie Rob Myers. (Myers might be ahead in that race. Eugene Bright, the defensive end conversion project, will be doing well to make it past Tuesday.)
Curtis, 6-5, 251, comes with a reputation as a blocking tight end, which was what he did during his 3 years with the Dallas Cowboys. Curtis signed with Kansas City this offseason, but was released early in camp after he suffered the ankle injury. Curtis and Myers, 6-4, 240, who caught four passes for 44 yards last week at Indianapolis, would seem to be opposite sides of the coin.
"In Dallas, pretty much I was meant to block; [Jason] Witten was catching all the balls," said Curtis, who caught 11 passes for 50 yards during his three Dallas seasons. In 2007, all three of his catches went for touchdowns, including one in a Nov. 4 victory over the Birds at Lincoln Financial Field. "I feel I can do it all."
Curtis was asked how long he thought it might take to learn Andy Reid's offense: "They're giving me about a week."
To sign Curtis and linebacker Curtis Gatewood - another former Chief - the Eagles released ex-Temple quarterback Adam DiMichele and wideout Shaheer McBride, from Chester. DiMichele was expected to go when Kevin Kolb returned from his knee injury, and Kolb is scheduled to play the fourth quarter tomorrow night. McBride made the practice squad last year, but didn't build on that success, competing against a stronger receivers group this year.
Gatewood is in the same fix as Curtis, having to learn a complex system in little time. While it seems likely the team has plans for Curtis, Gatewood's situation is murkier. The Eagles have a pretty well-stocked linebacking corps. Up-and-down special-teams play the first two preseason games might have opened a spot there, though, one that wouldn't require a lot of studying to fill.
"That's definitely my No. 1 priority," said Gatewood, who is scheduled to play tomorrow night.
Gatewood, 6-2, 248, a Vanderbilt grad, said he was contemplating going to graduate school after being released by Detroit Aug. 17. He signed with the Redskins as an undrafted rookie in 2008, then was plucked off their practice squad by Kansas City, appearing in six games, on special teams.
"Nature of the beast, man. I knew what I was signing up for," he said, when asked about playing a game after one real practice with his new team.