THE disappointing Eagles career of wideout Steve Smith ended yesterday afternoon, when the team placed him on injured reserve.
Like so much else about the 2011 Eagles that we thought we could envision back in training camp, Smith turned out to be a mirage. All that talk about his ahead-of-schedule rehab from microfracture surgery on his left knee, and how the Eagles were proactive in signing him while the Giants were caught napping - the bottom line is that Smith caught 11 passes for 124 yards and one touchdown (at the Giants, his former team, of course) before the repaired knee swelled up on the flight to Miami, where Smith was inactive for Sunday's Eagles victory.
Coach Andy Reid said yesterday that Smith, 26, has "a pretty good bone bruise in there."
On his 94 WIP radio show last night, Reid praised Smith as "a tough kid" who "battled like crazy and has given us some good downs there."
"Steve obviously did something in the walkthrough on Saturday," Reid said. "When we flew, his leg swelled up . . . He wanted to try to work it out, they wanted to try to get the swelling down, and then he wanted to try it before the game. It just didn't feel right."
Smith was here on a 1-year contract that paid him about $2.3 million. Even before this setback, he did not come close to resembling the wideout who caught an NFC-high 107 passes for 1,220 yards as a Giant in 2009.
To take Smith's roster spot, the Eagles promoted undrafted rookie defensive tackle Cedric Thornton from the practice squad. Thornton could be getting his reward for a strong training camp and preseason. Or his promotion could have something to do with the Cullen Jenkins groin injury Reid mentioned yesterday.
By the time yesterday's Andy Reid day-after news conference rolled around, reporters were pretty much done with the story of the dominant defensive effort that keyed Sunday's victory, and were ready to look a little closer at some of the problem areas. That shift was reflected in the questions. The coach noticed.
"I'm pretty excited that we won the game," Reid said, after being asked if he was disappointed in his offensive line. "This feels like we lost it here, I know, but I'm actually glad we won this game."
To win the NFC East, which is the only realistic route to the playoffs, Reid needs to get his team to win its three remaining games, while the Cowboys and the Giants lose two of three. Obviously, the Cowboys would have to lose their Dec. 24 game against the visiting Eagles.
Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg confirmed that Fox announcer Tim Ryan, a family friend, was correct Sunday. Technically, the offensive coordinator's Germanic family name should be pronounced MornHENWIG. But through the years, Marty has pretty much given up on that ever happening. Rather than explain it over and over again, he just answers to "Morningway."
An MRI found that defensive end Darryl Tapp did have a broken rib, after all, as a result of that late hit from the Dolphins' Nate Garner, Andy Reid said. Tapp, who was getting up, well after the play, when Garner hit him, felt it was a dirty hit. "I don't think it was an accident," Reid said . . . Reid said right tackle Todd Herremans came home with an ankle sprain. Reid said Herremans played most of the game with the injury. Reid said running back Ronnie Brown suffered a slight hamstring injury. Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin didn't play much in the second half because his healing hamstring tightened up, Reid said . . . The Eagles stopped the Dolphins on two of three red-zone trips and climbed out of the NFL red-zone defense basement . . .
Watching Jason Pierre-Paul dominate for the Giants on Sunday was painful for Eagles fans who know that Pierre-Paul was available in the first round of the 2010 draft, when the Eagles opted for another defensive end, Brandon Graham. Graham was again inactive Sunday, as he slowly returns from offseason microfracture surgery on his right knee. "Brandon's future is very bright," Reid said yesterday.