Asante Samuel did not practice with the Eagles for the second straight day, putting his availability for Saturday's game at Dallas very much in question.

Eagles coach Andy Reid said that Samuel tried to run on his strained hamstring Tuesday, but that the cornerback felt sore afterward and was held out from Wednesday's and Thursday's sessions.

"Asante is still a little sore, and we'll just see how he does here over the next couple days," Reid said.

Because of the short workweek, Thursday was the last strenuous practice before the Eagles board a flight Friday afternoon. There will be a light walk-through in the morning, at which point the team will decide whether Samuel is fit to travel.

The Eagles aren't required to release their official injury report for the Cowboys game until Friday.

If Samuel can't go, Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie will make his first start at left cornerback. Rodgers-Cromartie started against Buffalo in October, but that was as the nickel cornerback, where he has played most of the season.

Rodgers-Cromartie, who was acquired in the trade with Arizona for Kevin Kolb during training camp, filled in for Samuel when he left in the second quarter of Sunday's game against the New York Jets.

"That's where he's played over the years," Reid said. "We worked him as an inside player, and I thought he was getting better every week with that, but his natural spot, where he feels the most comfortable, is on the outside.

"He's looked good. He's done a nice job. He doesn't have a problem doing it."

Samuel attended the first part of Wednesday's and Thursday's practices, taking mental repetitions at certain points. Reid was asked whether the 30-year-old Samuel, because of his experience, could play despite the lack of preparation this week.

"Yeah, he knows what we're doing," Reid said.

Samuel hasn't missed a game this season, but the possibility that he might not be ready by Saturday's 4:15 p.m. kickoff is one of the scenarios the Eagles had in mind when they decided to keep three starting-caliber cornerbacks this season.

"We have this many talented corners on the team so we can fit people in when somebody goes down, if need be," said Nnamdi Asomugha, the third component of that triumvirate. "I don't think every team has that to their advantage."

Rodgers-Cromartie missed three games in late November and early December with a high-ankle sprain. Joselio Hanson replaced him in the nickel and has pretty much stayed in the slot even though Rodgers-Cromartie has been healthy the last two games.

Rodgers-Cromartie, who wasn't available for comment Thursday, had never played the nickel before this season, and it has showed.

"Like everything else learning this new system, it wasn't going to be a quick turnaround for him," Asomugha said.

There is a chance that Samuel, who is slated to earn close to $20 million over the next two seasons, won't be back next season. So a starting tandem of Rodgers-Cromartie and Asomugha - two corners who prefer to press cover - on Saturday could be the first glimpse of what could be.

The not-yet-dead Eagles aren't quite at the point where they are ready to wonder what could have been for this season. They're still mathematically alive in their playoff quest, but if the New York Giants beat the Jets at 1 p.m. Saturday, the Eagles will be eliminated.

They can still inflict a little damage to their rivals, however - a team they spanked, 34-7, back in October. Earlier this week, Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said that he was "scared" of the Eagles "after the butt-kicking they gave us up in Philadelphia."

Eagles quarterback Michael Vick said he hadn't heard Jones' comment. When he asked for the context of the quote, a reporter said that perhaps Jones was referring to the Eagles' all-around speed. Vick concurred.

"It's pretty scary what we can do," he said.

Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin wasn't buying Jones' act.

"He's a very confident owner in his team," Maclin said. "I don't know if he's trying to use that as reverse psychology."

Maclin was asked if he was scared of the Cowboys. "No," he said.

Extra point. Defensive tackle Trevor Laws (knee) was limited at practice, but he said he expected to play Saturday.