Just as the buzz started to grow about Brian Westbrook getting ready to play again Sunday, we were reminded how hard it is to make predictions about concussions.
Eagles coach Andy Reid gingerly acknowledged that Westbrook's neurological testing is not yet where it needs to be for the running back to be allowed to play. Yesterday, Westbrook worked with the scout team as a limited practice participant, just like last week. There now seems to be little chance he will play against the 49ers, though Reid didn't exactly admit that. Westbrook did not speak with reporters.
"He's better, but not all the way completely cleared there," Reid said. "We're still doing [testing] as his exercise increases. They'll keep testing him until they're comfortable with where he's at."
Asked if he is planning for the San Francisco game as if Westbrook won't be available, Reid said: "I am today. It's a day-to-day thing here. He wants to be back in there . . . we have to do what's best for him.
"I think actually he's feeling pretty good. It's just, they give him these tests, and if it's off an inch, they're very cautious with that, and understandably so."
Reid said he couldn't clarify what about the testing isn't quite where it should be. Westbrook initially suffered a concussion Oct. 26 against the Redskins, then suffered another in his Nov. 15 return, against San Diego.
Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who tore one strand of the plantar fascia in his left foot Sunday against the Giants, did not practice yesterday but was not wearing a protective boot in the locker room. Reid said he has not ruled Maclin out for the 49ers, although on Monday he seemed to be forecasting a 2-week absence for the first-round rookie.
Wideout Kevin Curtis, who hasn't played since Week 2 because of a knee injury, was a full practice participant. Reid said before the session that Curtis would work with both the practice squad and the first-team offense.
"Because of the injury to Maclin, we're going to ask him to do a few things in there," Reid said.
It's unclear whether Curtis might be active Sunday. The Birds might go with three tight ends, now that Martin Rucker is up from the practice squad and Brent Celek has a sore back. Reid said Celek "should be ready to go this weekend," but the team might want some insurance, beyond backup Alex Smith.
"He was in a meeting and stood up and it just caught on him," Reid said of Celek, who apparently was injured the day before the Giants game. Celek was walking stiffly in the locker room yesterday. "He's not a back-problem guy. It's kind of a weird deal. They worked on him and were able to get him ready for the game. It's calming down. I think he's going to be fine."
Not so fine?
At the end of the morning locker-room session for the media, equipment manager John Hatfield handed DeSean Jackson one of those ominous FedEx envelopes, the ones that contain letters announcing league fines. Jackson quickly took out the letter, scanned it, and said to Hatfield: "I didn't strike nobody in the head."
It would be nice to tell you exactly what this was about, and the amount of the fine, but an Eagles spokesman shooed the few remaining reporters out of the locker room before Jackson answered a reporter's question to that effect.
When Jackson was questioned after practice he answered, "What fine? Where's that envelope at? What you talkin' about?"
Further muddying the waters, some of the questioners seemed to think Jackson had been fined for taunting or celebrating, which, given what he'd said to Hatfield, was not the case. So several times Jackson confidently denied being fined for taunting or celebrating. Somewhere in there, he denied being fined at all.
An NFL spokesman said information on fines generally isn't available through the league until Friday.
There were a lot of feisty moments in Sunday night's game. Jackson flopped to the turf after jawing with Giants corner/safety Aaron Ross, then getting bumped in the facemask as Ross leaned into him. Could this somehow translate into a fine for Jackson?
Hatfield had another envelope under his arm, for defensive end Trent Cole, who twice punched Giants offensive lineman Shaun O'Hara in a closing-moments scrum.
"I embarrassed myself and my team," said Cole, who would not disclose the amount of the fine. Indications were that the Eagles expected it to be substantial - perhaps more than $10,000. The Newark Star Ledger reported that Cole and O'Hara were both fined $15,000. "We go out there to play a game and we leave everything on the field. It was just a situation that I didn't want to be in. It happened, and we've got to deal with it."
Apparently, Cole came to the aid of Jason Babin, who was on the ground. The scrum began with shoves between Chris Clemons and David Diehl.
Babin is not known for being reticent. During training camp, he had a few fist-swinging run-ins with reserve offensive lineman Chris Patrick, who eventually was cut. Patrick is now a 49ers reserve. So yesterday, courtesy of an anonymous teammate, Babin found hanging over his locker a photo of Patrick, with "I'm coming for you, Babin!" written underneath. *