MIKE PATTERSON'S 2012 season finally might begin Monday night in New Orleans.

Patterson, a defensive tackle, underwent a 6-hour brain surgery a little more than 10 months ago to untangle nerves behind his right eye, which caused an on-field seizure in training camp in 2011. He practiced with the first- and second-team defenses for the first time Thursday, after rejoining practices last week as a scout-team player.

Patterson hasn't taken a snap in the NFL since Week 15 last year. The Eagles' 2005 first-round pick has played 110 games for the team, more than any other current player. He has 328 career tackles and four forced fumbles under his belt.

"I'm excited for it," Patterson said. "I'm really more excited than anxious, but I'm more anxious than anybody just to get out there and be able to play again. You never know [how you feel] until you get out on the field, but I feel like I could definitely go out there and give a series."

Patterson, 29, would need to be activated from the reserve/non-football injury list - which would require a move to make room on the 53-man roster - in time for Monday's game. If the Birds release a d-lineman to add Patterson, Phillip Hunt and Darryl Tapp seem to be at the bottom of the game usage chart. Eagles coach Andy Reid said Thursday that he would wait and see how Patterson felt in practice before making a decision.

Reid has another week to decide. If Patterson doesn't join the roster in time for the Nov. 11 Dallas game, he must go on injured reserve for the year.

"He felt really good last week. I have another week where if I don't feel comfortable there with how he's feeling, we can go from there," Reid said. "He feels good right now."

Getting defensive

Defensive end Jason Babin was unhappy with what he said was "a good section of fans chanting some of the most vile things I've ever heard, not just at a football game, but in life in general" on Sunday. "Attacking [Eagles coach Andy Reid], talking about people's wives and kids, and chanting 'em. I just thought, there's no place for that in the NFL. None whatsoever," said Babin, who earlier this week used his fan-club Twitter handle to define "loyalty."

"Yeah, I'm going to be protective of coach Reid and [defensive line coach Jim Washburn] and my teammates. It was upsetting that a few bad apples were chanting that kind of stuff, but what are you going to do?" Babin said.

Babin indicated his decreased playing time against Atlanta had to do with the Falcons' running game. But Brandon Graham, the Eagles' first-round draft pick in 2010, has seen his snaps increase steadily, and on Sunday, that increase came almost entirely at Babin's expense. Graham, who played a season-high 31 snaps against the Falcons, clearly expects his role to continue to grow. Babin played a season-low 33 snaps. Neither Graham nor Babin managed a sack; Graham was credited with four tackles, Babin with one.

"I felt like I did good with the reps I did have," Graham said. "I'm trying to be a leader out there . . . I'm not afraid to be that guy that can talk, echo stuff. I used to still feel like I was a rookie. It's hard to transition sometimes. Now, I don't look at myself as a rookie anymore. I got to step up, do what I gotta do."


Andy Reid said guard Danny Watkins (ankle) will struggle to be ready for Monday's game, meaning a second successive start for rookie Dennis Kelly. DT Cullen Jenkins sat out practice with a knee hyperextension, but Jenkins and Reid said they think he will be OK for the game. Reid said Damaris Johnson will return punts against the Saints, with Mardy Gilyard sidelined by a hamstring problem . . . Asked about the players' meeting Wednesday, tight end Brent Celek said: "We gotta turn this thing around. We gotta turn it around quick. This season's not lost, but there needs to be some drastic changes, and we need to do it. It needs to be shown on the field."