The Eagles should be pretty close to full strength for Sunday night's important game against the Cowboys in Texas.
On his weekly radio show on WIP last night, coach Andy Reid said he thinks cornerback Asante Samuel and defensive end Juqua Parker will practice this week and play.
Both players missed the last two games with injuries, Samuel with a sprained left medial collateral ligament and Parker with a hip pointer.
To say they were missed would be an understatement. In their absence, the defense gave up 55 points, 780 net yards, six touchdown passes and six TDs by opponents in seven red-zone opportunities.
"I think they will be [ready]," Reid said. "They both seem to be getting healthy. I think they'll be out there and ready to go for practice [tomorrow]."
Samuel leads the NFL in interceptions with seven. The Eagles had only one pick in the two games he missed, by defensive tackle Trevor Laws.
With Parker out, rookie Brandon Graham took the most reps at left end, and his fatigue clearly showed in the second half Thursday night against the Texans.
Right tackle Winston Justice isn't so certain to play against the Cowboys. He injured his knee in the fourth quarter of the Texans game. He was replaced by King Dunlap, who, except for picking up a quick holding penalty, actually held his own against defensive end Mario Williams.
"He's doing better," Reid said of Justice. "Not all the way back. But he's getting better each day and making a lot of progress."
Reid also said quarterback Michael Vick is good to go. Vick took a beating in the Texans game. Got a helmet in his ribs, another to his quadriceps and numerous other shots, both in and out of the pocket.
The bruised quad was his most significant injury coming out of the game, but he's been getting treatment.
"He's doing great. Back and ready to roll," Reid said.
Reid desperately needs Vick to keep rolling, which is why he complained to the NFL Friday about the way officials are letting opposing defensive players take kill shots at his bread-and-butter quarterback. Reid wouldn't say yesterday whether he's heard back. The league is not likely to tell him anything he's happy to hear.
Mainly, he hopes that by publicly complaining, the zebras might be a little more willing to throw a flag the next time somebody drills his quarterback.
"It's important that you focus in on the position and the rules that pertain to that position, not who's playing it," he said on the radio. "We went through it a little bit with Donovan [McNabb]. Donovan ran around a little bit when he was younger.
"They treat them like they're half-running back and half-quarterback. And that's not the position. They're playing the quarterback position.
"If they choose to run, that's part of their game. Whatever goes for the other quarterbacks needs to go for the quarterbacks that are going to run. Steve Young went through the same thing. Guys are getting away with hits that shouldn't be taking place.
"You've got to make sure you take care of these guys. They're an important part of your offense."
Vick isn't making it easy on himself. While he's taking a lot of shots behind the line of scrimmage as a passer, he's also taking a ton as a runner. He ran 10 times against the Texans. In the last five games, he has 48 carries.
The fact he doesn't know how to slide doesn't help matters.
"He knows [the risks]," Reid said. "He wants to finish the season. He's learning when to get down and when not to. He's getting better at that. The biggest part is he wants to make sure he doesn't let his teammates down, but at the same time [he wants to] make plays.
"You just don't want him to take the big hit. He's got to call the plays and execute the offense. You want to make sure he can function out there." *