LeSEAN MCCOY doesn't want to set himself apart from his teammates by sitting out Sunday's season finale against the Washington Redskins, even though the Eagles aren't going to the playoffs.

"Over the course of a season, man, you kind of [forge] a bond between players. You go through hard times together, and you celebrate all the good times together. I think going out as one team, man, will be good for everybody. That's kind of the goal," McCoy said after being a limited practice participant yesterday, with an ankle sprain he suffered Saturday against Dallas.

McCoy said he intends to play, even though, with 1,309 yards, he is now 128 yards behind Jacksonville's Maurice Jones-Drew for the NFL rushing title and 203 yards behind Wilbert Montgomery's single-season franchise rushing record.

"I look forward to playing," McCoy said. "You can get hurt doing anything. I don't really go into the game thinking about getting hurt. That's not how you play the game. You want to go out there and compete, beat the opponent."

Nate the Great?

Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo touted second-year safety Nate Allen as a future Pro Bowl player yesterday. He also declared Allen the kind of fellow a potential father-in-law would find marriage-worthy.

"That's a good thing, that he's got confidence in me like that," Allen said, when told about the Pro Bowl endorsement. "That's a goal to be working towards."

Allen was asked about the perception he has been wildly inconsistent, tackling and in coverage. Early in the season, Allen definitely lacked confidence in his repaired right patella tendon.

"Some things just happen, some games," he said. "Sometimes, things aren't going well, and you just get beat on some things. That's just how this league works . . . You try to eliminate as many of those games, as many errors as you can, but sometimes that happens."

Allen said his knee "came along, and it feels good [now]."

"It's just something I had to work on and am still working on," he said. "As you go along through the season, you gain that confidence and you realize everything's going to be all right. You stop worrying about it and just play. You really have no control over what happens."

Strange interlude

One of several players who didn't have the season he'd hoped for is running back Ronnie Brown, the former Dolphins star who signed a 1-year deal with the Eagles in training camp, hoping to grab some "dream-team" glitter. A strong, Super Bowl-type season, as a backup to LeSean McCoy, might have made Brown more marketable next year.

There will be no playoff platform for Brown, 30, who has 122 yards on 36 carries this season. He was traded to Detroit at the trade deadline for former Eagle Jerome Harrison, the Birds wanting to give Brown a chance to play more, but the trade was reversed when Harrison's physical turned up a brain tumor. Brown was yanked out of a meeting in Detroit and sent back to NovaCare.

"Part of being a professional is knowing how to keep everything in perspective," Brown said yesterday. "Luckily for us, [Harrison] found out something that was more valuable than football. That was one of the things that helped me keep it in perspective. I'm thinking, 'How can I complain, because I got traded and I came back, when this guy's dealing with a life-altering situation?' "


Special-teams coordinator Bobby April said Chad Hall will return kickoffs and a Hall-DeSean Jackson combo will handle punts. "We wanted to give him a shot," April said. "We wanted to just try to shuffle the deck a little bit or change up the deck. You know, the house has not been doing that well with the deck we were playing with." The Birds rank 22nd in kickoff returns. "We wanted to bring in a new deck and possibly a new dealer" . . . Cornerback Asante Samuel (hamstring) wasn't at practice and isn't expected to play . . . Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, asked about the playoffs, said, "You get what you earn in this league, and we didn't earn it."