Asante Samuel was listed as questionable for Sunday night's game at Dallas.
The more apt question might be: "How can the Eagles cornerback play against the Cowboys when he took hardly any practice repetitions all week?"
According to Samuel, he doesn't "need any practice reps" to be ready for the NFC East showdown.
Coach Andy Reid said that Samuel was "day-to-day," and that a decision over whether the corner would travel with the team wouldn't likely be made until after Saturday's walk-through.
Samuel missed the previous two games with the same knee sprain, and for those looking for an indicator this time around, Samuel also was listed as questionable on the official injury report prior to both those contests.
As with those previous examples, there appears to be little reason to think the Pro Bowl corner will rebound by Sunday, despite Samuel's and Reid's game of charades. He was limited Wednesday, apparently suffered a setback because he didn't practice Thursday, and did hardly anything Friday.
"I wouldn't call it a setback," Samuel said of Wednesday's session, "but you know, some things were uncomfortable."
Samuel was suited up at the start of practice inside the Eagles indoor facility Friday, but he never put his helmet on as he watched the defense install plays. When the team gathered to scrimmage, Samuel jogged to one end of the field. Moments later, he exited with a trainer.
"My main thing is just try to get as healthy as possible," Samuel said. Obviously, the Eagles would like to have Samuel at full health for next week's showdown with the New York Giants.
Winston Justice had pretty much the same work week as Samuel. The tackle didn't practice once because of the knee he hyperextended last Thursday against Houston, but he observed Friday's session.
"I took a lot of mental reps," Justice said. "I think I'll be fine."
Every starter plays an important role, but the possible losses of Samuel and Justice could be especially damaging against a rejuvenated Cowboys team.
Joselio Hanson will probably start at left cornerback for the third straight game if Samuel can't go. Previously, when he moved inside to play his regular nickel position, rookie Trevard Lindley took over. The pair has struggled whenever Samuel hasn't played.
In fact, the entire pass defense has not performed well without the NFL's leading interceptor. In the nine games this season in which Samuel has played, the Eagles have allowed 205 yards in the air, a 55.3 completion percentage, and 1.7 touchdowns a game. In the three games in which he has missed - he sat out the 49ers game with a concussion - the numbers rose significantly: 277 yards, 63.5 percentage, and three scores an outing.
"The last couple of games I was proud of what they did," Reid said of Hanson and Lindley. "But again, you're talking about Asante. He's a great player. Would you like him to be in there? Yeah, absolutely."
The Cowboys have big-bodied receivers in the 6-foot-2 Miles Austin and the 6-3 Roy Williams, although 6-2 rookie Dez Bryant is out for the season with a broken ankle. Quarterback Tony Romo is also sidelined with a broken collarbone, but backup Jon Kitna has filled in admirably.
"Kitna kind of resembles Romo," said the 5-9 Hanson. "I'm playing like Romo is out there."
Justice has been responsible for protecting the lefthanded Michael Vick's back for most of the season, but if he isn't healthy, King Dunlap will start for the first time ever at right tackle. In October, he started two games at left tackle in place of the injured Jason Peters.
But this will be his first experience in the pros going up against a 3-4 defense.
"It's a big challenge," Reid said. "They have a good defensive line. But I think everybody has confidence in King."
Reid said that he had not yet made a decision on whether Max Jean-Gilles or Nick Cole would start at right guard. The two have taken turns starting over the last three games. . . . Reid said that DeSean Jackson would continue to be the primary punt returner unless the receiver needs a break, and then Jorrick Calvin or Jeremy Maclin would spell him. . . . Vick was listed as probable with a quadriceps bruise, but he said he was "100 percent." . . . Defensive end Juqua Parker, who missed the last two games with a hip flexor strain, is "ready to roll," according to Reid.