Despite what little hope there is, the Eagles - a day after learning they still weren't mathematically eliminated from the playoffs - received a slim ray of sunshine with Michael Vick's return to practice.
Vick missed the last three games with broken ribs. Monday's practice was just a light one, but the Eagles quarterback said that he would "absolutely" be able to play Sunday at Miami.
"I'll definitely be out there," Vick said. "I feel like I've got to be accountable for my team. I want to be there."
Vick said he was able to practice without any restrictions, although he admitted that his ribs still weren't 100 percent healed. Eagles coach Andy Reid said during his radio show that Vick was able to torque and throw without pain.
"He did very well," Reid said. "He looked smooth."
Vick could have Jeremy Maclin to throw to against the Dolphins. The wide receiver did not practice Monday, but Maclin said that he will be available for Wednesday's practice and expects to play Sunday.
"Other than my freshman year in college when I tore my ACL, this has been the most time I've ever missed," Maclin said. "So it's frustrating. . . . I tried to come back once and it just wasn't ready, so I had to wait until I was ready this time."
Maclin, out with shoulder and hamstring injuries, tried practicing two weeks ago, but his hamstring acted up.
"In his mind he's going to play, but we just got to ease him back into it," Reid said. "I don't want to take any steps back."
Nnamdi Asomugha passed his baseline testing after suffering a concussion at Seattle on Thursday and was at practice. The cornerback said he was limited because of his hyperextended left knee.
Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who missed the last three games with a high ankle sprain, practiced but did not sound optimistic about playing at Miami. Offensive lineman King Dunlap was cleared by doctors Monday morning after missing three games because of a concussion.
A little late, the Eagles are getting healthy. Having Vick back should be the most significant addition. His replacement, Vince Young, guided the Eagles past the New York Giants in his first start, but he regressed against the Patriots and looked bad against the Seahawks.
In three starts, Young threw eight interceptions.
"It means a whole bunch to us," receiver Jason Avant said about Vick's return. "That's our starting quarterback and everyone knows it."
Vick, though, has struggled like the rest of the team. In his nine starts this season, the Eagles have gone 3-6. He's thrown 13 interceptions and fumbled three times. He has a 79.8 passer rating.
"Obviously, I wish I could have done more this year like I did last year, but that's just not the case," said Vick, who had an 8-3 mark as a starter last season and finished with a 100.2 rating.
As he did last year, he's missed three games because of a rib injury. Vick was asked if he needed to change how he played - staying in the pocket more - so that he wasn't susceptible to hits to his rib area.
"I really didn't know I was that frail in this area," Vick said. "That's two years in a row, two rib injuries, and I just can't have that. I've got to be out on the football field and accountable for my team."
As for the Eagles' playoff chances, they're about as slim as the ray of sunshine that accompanied Vick's return. But because the Packers beat the Giants and the Kevin Kolb-led Cardinals upset the Cowboys, the 4-8 Eagles are still (barely) breathing.
"Because of Kevin Kolb and some of the things that happened," Reid said, "we're still alive."
To get in the postseason, the Eagles would have to win out, the 7-5 Cowboys would have to go, at best, 1-3 and the 6-6 Giants could do no better than 2-2.
"It's good, but I think we have to take care of our own" business, Eagles tight end Brent Celek said. "We have to start winning games before we can worry about other people. But it still gives us a chance, which is good, and that's all you can ask for when you're in this position."