'MONDAY NIGHT Football." A six-game losing streak. The Andy Reid era sputtering to a ragged close, with Jon Gruden right there in the broadcast booth, analyzing the proceedings. In the 2-8 Carolina Panthers, an opponent that provides the potential for what would have to be the worst Eagles loss in a season defined by them.
People around the team are worried about an ugly scene at Lincoln Financial Field.
"It might be a little hostile," said tight end Brent Celek, who is as much a part of the community as anyone on the team. "The fans, they could be rowdy, which we're all fine with. We've got to be ready for it . . . Most important, we've just got to worry about our own job, what we're doing, and everything else should take care of itself."
This was a continuation of the theme Celek sounded earlier in the week - get out to a lead (something the Eagles never do), win the game, that will take the edge off the crowd. Nobody's going to chant or burn the coach in effigy during a victory. (Or so the Eagles hope . . . )
He was answering a question about player accountability, but Reid said something pertinent about the team and the atmosphere when he spoke to reporters Saturday.
"Nobody wants to play the way we've been playing, nobody wants to coach the way we've been coaching," Reid said. "We don't want that. We owe it to each other, we owe it to this city to play better."
Monday night might not be the most welcoming of home-start debuts for rookie quarterback Nick Foles.
"I'm just looking forward to going out there and playing in front of our Eagles fans," Foles said Saturday, when the topic was raised. "I don't know what to expect, I just want to go out and play the best I can and with everything I have . . . I know this has been a tough season for us and a tough season for them. It's not over yet."
Defensive end Trent Cole said the Eagles have bigger concerns than the crowd.
"We're playing for each others' jobs," Cole said.
Vick improving, McCoy suffering
Andy Reid made it official Saturday that quarterback Michael Vick will not play Monday night against Carolina. But though head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder emphasized that Vick still needs to clear several hurdles to play again - including normal neurological testing and OKs from both team internist Dr. Gary Dorshimer and an independent neurologist - Burkholder said Vick would progress into Phase 4 of the five-phase process Sunday, and start throwing a football. (The Eagles confirmed Sunday that did occur.)
"He reports no symptoms - no headache, no vision problems, no nausea, no fatigue or anything like that," Burkholder said.
Burkholder said the independent neurologist visit should occur early in the week. Burkholder said Vick is "still off in a few areas" of his baseline testing, something that needs to return to normal before he is cleared to practice fully.
But Vick's improvement would seem to herald a huge decision coming for the Eagles, who might want to use the rest of the season to evaluate Nick Foles. Reid has said that Vick is the starter, period.
The news Saturday was much less encouraging on running back LeSean McCoy. Burkholder said McCoy is still symptomatic and remains at Phase 1 in his recovery, after suffering a concussion in the closing minutes of last Sunday's loss at Washington.
"LeSean still has symptoms today - he's got a headache, he's got periodic dizziness with exertion. We're not exercising him, but if he goes up and down steps too fast, tries to pick up his baby, that type of thing, he gets a little fuzzy," Burkholder said. "It's not nearly as bad as it was in Washington, but he's still very fatigued, he's got some sleep issues . . . One of the things he complains about is sensitivity to noise . . . He's foggy and he's slowed down."
Andy Reid said that with only two healthy running backs - Bryce Brown and Dion Lewis - he'll use Stanley Havili there if he has to, and Damaris Johnson. (Bet he saves Damaris for short yardage/goal line) . . . "I think I'm doing my job within the scheme," rookie linebacker Mychal Kendricks said, when asked if he felt his play had dropped off or he'd worn down from where he was early in the season . . .
Reid seems to see new wide receiver Greg Salas as helpful in the slot. Salas, cut by the Patriots last week, said going from a potential championship team to a team that is 3-7 is less of a big deal for him than having a job; he's happy to be here. Salas, the Rams' fourth-round pick in 2011, the year after Mardy Gilyard was their fourth-round pick, has Gilyard's locker and Gilyard's jersey, after Gilyard was cut to make room for him. They are friends from their time together in St. Louis, Salas confirmed . . .
Right guard Danny Watkins is pretty much where he was last week, Reid said - meaning he will be available for emergency duty only.