JOSELIO HANSON has done this before. Fifteen starts in an Eagles career that dates to 2006, some just because the defense opened in "nickel," others because of injury to usual starters.

Maybe a lot of fans know him only as the guy who got suspended for the NFC Championship Game at Arizona last year for something he said was in his Chinese takeout, but Hanson is one of the longest-serving Eagles now, a role player with tenure.

"We did a new deal [6 years, $15 million] for him last year, so we felt good about him," coach Andy Reid said yesterday. "He's had opportunities to fill in at the corner spot as a starter and done a nice job. And then, he's our starting nickel back. So we obviously have a lot of confidence in him and feel good about him being in there, if needed."

It sure looked yesterday as if Hanson would be needed. The Birds concluded their practice week without Asante Samuel ever stepping on the field, after straining his left medial collateral ligament Sunday against the Giants. Officially, Samuel is "questionable," as are defensive tackle Antonio Dixon (who left Thanksgiving practice with an abdominal strain) and defensive end Juqua Parker, who aggravated his hip flexor injury against the Giants and did not practice this week.

Reid said all three tentatively were scheduled to travel with the team to Chicago today. He said Samuel is "feeling a little bit better . . . still not 100 percent." Typically under Reid, players who can't practice by Friday don't play on Sunday.

"I'm just excited to go out there and play. I'm just going to have fun, try to get to 8-3," said Hanson, 29, who started against the 49ers on Oct. 10, when Samuel was sidelined by a concussion. "Being outside, you feel like you're out there by yourself a couple of times, a lot more, because you're on an island, as people say, but that's basically [the only difference from his normal role], really. It's still the game of football . . . I've played corner forever."

Hanson has only one interception this season, in the opener against Green Bay. Samuel leads the league with seven; that's two more than Hanson has in 93 NFL games.

"I'm just going to play my game," Hanson said. "Hopefully, I can get a couple. You never know."

The Bears' top wideouts aren't terribly prolific - Johnny Knox has 37 catches for 672 yards and one touchdown, Devin Hester 28 for 284 and a pair of TDs. But they are fast.

"A lot of speed," Hanson said. "We still have to challenge those guys, just can't just sit back on 'em."

Reid said he can't factor into the injury decisions the fact that the Eagles play again Thursday, at home against Houston.

"It's that time of the year: If you can go, you go, as long as you're safe there," he said.

Players said earlier in the week the plan is for Hanson to play outside in the base defense, then move to his customary inside spot when the Birds are in nickel, with rookie Trevard Lindley coming in to play outside. Lindley has played only a handful of defensive snaps, in two games.

"He had a great practice today, I think he had two interceptions," Hanson said of Lindley. "I'm looking forward to seeing how he reacts out there . . . I make sure he's all right out there. After every play in practice, I'm making sure he's understanding, getting it down, so we're ready on Sunday."

Reid said Dixon "made a big jump from yesterday to today. So, you know, I'm optimistic."

Brodrick Bunkley will resume his starting role if Dixon can't go, and Trevor Laws presumably will see more snaps, near the site of his college glories at Notre Dame. Laws said yesterday he had to scrounge up extra tickets for friends.

Reid said Samuel and Parker are veterans who wouldn't necessarily need to practice to play.

Duce helping Shady

Both Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg made a point this week of mentioning how much coaching intern Duce Staley has helped LeSean McCoy's maturation process.

"Duce is constantly on him, and LeSean knows the kind of player Duce was . . . Duce spends a lot of time with him," Reid said.

McCoy said yesterday Staley is most helpful with "little keys."

Asked yesterday about the frustrations of not getting the touches he got in college - McCoy had the second-lowest total of carries among the NFL's top 15 runners coming out of last weekend - McCoy sounded a lot like Staley, circa 2003.

"This is their system. I'm not the guy that's going to change it," he said. "I've just got to come in and adjust."

McCoy is not only the Birds' top runner (146 carries, 726 yards, 5.0 yards per carry), he leads the team in receptions, with 51 (for 381 yards). He said yesterday he could always catch the ball, but has had to learn the nuances of route-running to be effective in Reid's offense.

This is McCoy's second NFL season, his first as a featured back. He is only nine carries shy of his rookie total (155, for 637 yards) and has surpassed his 40 catches in 2009.

"I'm sore. I'm definitely sore. But, dang, I feel good, man," McCoy said. "My legs and body are fresher than last year."

Mornhinweg said this week that McCoy is "very tough now, physically and mentally."

McCoy said that, as an NFL running back, "you're going to be banged up, you're going to be hurt. You've just gotta tough it out."

Birdseed

The NFL finally got around to confirming the Eagles' fines from last weekend - $40,000 for Asante Samuel's hit on Derek Hagan, $5,000 for Todd Herremans' cut block. Giants running back Brandon Jacobs was fined $20,000 for getting into it verbally with fans at Lincoln Financial Field. Samuel, fined for "unnecessarily striking a defenseless player in the head and neck area," was a repeat offender, the league said, because of a fine he received last year, for something unsportsmanlike he did in the Tampa game, Oct. 11, 2009. Not sure that one was ever picked up on by the media . . . U.S. Rep.-elect Jon Runyan, R-N.J., was a visitor to practice yesterday, as was his former teammate, ex-wideout Todd Pinkston . . . Also on hand was Andy Reid's agent, Bob LaMonte, who said he was just checking in, and didn't have client Brad Childress out in the car hoping for a return engagement or anything.

 

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