THERE'S A good chance the Eagles will look to corner Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and safety Jaiquawn Jarrett as starters next season. So the opportunity to assess them in those roles this Sunday in the season finale against the Redskins is welcome, even if nobody wished injury upon corner Asante Samuel (hamstring) or safety Kurt Coleman (biceps tendon).
"When you're looking for positives, that would be a positive," Eagles coach Andy Reid said yesterday. "We have a pretty good idea about Dominique. He's been out there for a few years [in Arizona], playing on the outside, and we know what kind of player he is. Jaiquawn, that's a whole different story, he doesn't have as much experience."
The Eagles have placed Coleman on injured reserve. Reid says he thinks "it will be a stretch" for Samuel to play.
Jarrrett is the second-round safety from Temple who has had a hard time getting on the field. Linebacker and safety usually are identified as the Eagles' biggest areas of need heading into the offseason, but the fact is, the Birds have taken a safety in the second round each of the past two seasons. Injury, in the case of Nate Allen, and the lockout-marred offseason, in the case of Jarrett, have kept the team from knowing exactly what it has there, whether it needs to expend even more resources at the position.
Reid said Jarrett hasn't gotten to play much because in Coleman and Allen, "you've seen improvement every week. It's really only due to that, it's not [lack of] effort or knowledge or anything from Jaiquawn's spot."
Jarrett yesterday referred to "a long process . . . We've got one last game here, I want to go out and finish strong. I'm going to continue to learn, continue to get better."
Rodgers-Cromartie started for Samuel last Saturday at Dallas, and played well. It's widely assumed that the Eagles, who had trouble melding the talents and styles of three prominent corners this season, will trade Samuel and his contract, which will pay him about $19 million over its final 2 years of 2012 and 2013. So Samuel, who was not available to speak with reporters yesterday, might have played his final game as an Eagle.
Rodgers-Cromartie said he has no idea whether he will play inside or outside next season, but feels it's more likely he'll remain inside. He said he doubts Samuel is leaving.
Outside, DRC said, "is home," but having played inside most of the season, he's just about as confident there as he is outside.
This weekend is "another chance to just go out there and play," he said, but he said he can't imagine this game will play that big a role in offseason calculations.
Eagles left tackle Jason Peters takes pride in his durability, a big part of making the Pro Bowl five seasons in a row.
Peters entered the NFL in Buffalo as an undrafted free agent tight end from Arkansas, in 2004. He made the move to tackle in 2005, but Peters said yesterday it took about 2 years "to get my footwork and my timing down." He was traded to the Eagles in 2009.
Peters is having his best year, under the new system of offensive-line coach Howard Mudd.
"We've got a bunch of screen passes, a bunch of sprint draws we run where I can get out in space and make blocks for Shady [McCoy]," Peters said.
Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins is likely to join NFC starters Peters, running back LeSean McCoy and defensive end Jason Babin in Hawaii. Jenkins is a first alternate.
"It'd be cool to get in. I never went to one before," Jenkins said. "I've never been an alternate or anything."
Andy Reid dodged the question Monday, when Reid was asked if DeSean Jackson will return in 2012. Jackson can become an unrestricted free agent, if the Eagles don't franchise him. Quarterback Michael Vick said yesterday he doesn't think Jackson is going anywhere.
"I expect DeSean to be back next year. I expect him to continue to mature as a player. So don't you guys start talking that talk. Don't put thoughts in anybody's head around here, because it's not going to work," Vick said, smiling.
Left guard Evan Mathis and defensive tackle Derek Landri will be unrestricted free agents this offseason. Both played well enough that the Eagles should have interest in bringing them back. Both welcomed that thought yesterday. "I think I'm a good fit here, but we'll see what happens later," Mathis said. Landri, cut at the end of the preseason despite strong play, rejoined the Eagles Oct. 4, after Antonio Dixon went on IR. "I'd love to be back. I hope I'm back," Landri said. "I'll do everything I can to be back here" . . .