BETHLEHEM — In a week, the Eagles will host a preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Chances you'll see any of the Birds' projected front four starting defensive linemen that night? Not good.
Of course, starters don't play much in preseason openers anyway, but the Eagles finished practice Wednesday with all four of those guys injured — defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins pulled a hamstring and was to get an MRI Wednesday night, a few snaps into filling in at defensive end for Trent Cole, who has developed an AC joint problem and did not take the field.
They joined defensive end Jason Babin, out 2-3 weeks with a calf strain, and defensive tackle Mike Patterson, who will sit out training camp as his skull heals from surgery to untangle blood vessels.
Eagles coach Andy Reid said Cole could be sidelined anywhere from a day to a week. No prognosis was offered for Jenkins.
If none of these are long-term problems (other than the Patterson situation, which already was a long-term problem), the upshot mostly is an extended look for players such as Brandon Graham, Phillip Hunt, Darryl Tapp and rookie Vinny Curry. (Yet another defensive end, Monte Taylor, left Wednesday's afternoon workout with a concussion, the Eagles said.)
Babin left the Lehigh fieldhouse Wednesday with a large bag of ice strapped to his right leg. He told reporters he has a definite idea who might emerge from the pack in his absence. He wouldn't provide a name, but said he thinks everyone will be able to figure it out by the end of the week. (The guess here is he's talking about Graham, who has been relentless, on a quest to redeem his first-round promise, as he starts his third season since the Eagles traded up to draft him 15th overall.)
"The biggest thing for me I kind of feel a little upset about — I know some of the young guys could benefit from me being out there, which is ultimately going to benefit the team," Babin said. "It's upsetting, but I'm going to get out there as fast as I can."
Cole waved off reporters as he walked to the parking lot.
"I feel like I'm in great shape," said Graham, who has acknowledged conditioning was an issue last season, as he labored to return from ACL and microfracture surgery. "That's half the battle. You know, my knee, it was holding up last year, but really, it was kind of stopping me from being able to go all out, because it was still mental for me. Now? I'm just going to go out there and play. I'm going to be out there diving on the piles — you're going to see a different guy."
Media reports have speculated that Tapp might be on the roster bubble, though no coaches have said that. Tapp said Wednesday there is nothing to be gained by worrying.
"From Day 1 in the league, I've seen how the NFL kind of works itself out," said Tapp, who is entering his seventh season. "I tell all the young cats that get caught up in that situation, worry about what you can control, everything else will take care of itself."
Does he feel his roster spot is etched in stone?
"Nothing's in stone for anybody," Tapp said. "Maybe Mike [Vick]."
Off on the right foot
Punter Mat McBriar worked out his visa issue and practiced for the first time with the Eagles Wednesday afternoon.
McBriar, 33, is Australian. He said after the Eagles agreed to "sponsor" him, signing him as a free agent, he had to leave the country shortly, then return. McBriar chose to make a visit to Ottawa. Saw the Rideau Canal. Then came back to Lehigh.
McBriar, a two-time Pro Bowl selection, was released by the Cowboys after struggling from a nerve problem in his plant leg that turned out to be a cyst pressing on the peroneal nerve. He underwent surgery in February and has waited as the nerve slowly gets back to normal. He has a brace that he wore while punting with the problem last season. He said he probably doesn't need the brace now, but will wear it in the early going just for added confidence.
Tight end Brent Celek, who suffered a knee sprain the first day of full-squad workouts last week, was running Wednesday morning on a field adjacent to the walk-through, supervised by an athletic trainer. Andy Reid said Celek can do everything but cut. Reid seemed to think Celek might return within a few days.