MICHAEL VICK and LeSean McCoy returned to the practice field Tuesday for the first time since suffering concussions last month. Both were limited participants in practice.
The quarterback and running back are scheduled to see an independent neurologist Wednesday and could be cleared to play. But it's extremely unlikely that either will be activated for Thursday night's home game against the Cincinnati Bengals, though trainer Rick Burkholder said they haven't been ruled out.
The same can't be said for tight end Brent Celek and defensive tackle Mike Patterson, who won't play. Celek suffered a concussion on the first play of Sunday's win over Tampa Bay. He has been asymptomatic since late Sunday. But the Eagles make all concussed players pass five stages of rehabilitation. And with a Thursday game, there isn't enough time to do that.
Celek told Burkholder that he thought he lost consciousness after getting hit. In accordance with the NFL's concussion protocol, that meant he couldn't return to the game.
Burkholder said Celek initially had some balance issues, but had improved by halftime, and by the end of the game, was totally asymptomatic. "His balance was back, everything was back to normal," the trainer said.
Burkholder said Celek did ImPACT testing Tuesday morning and already was back to baseline. If the Eagles were playing on Sunday rather than Thursday, he probably would be cleared to play.
Patterson is recovering from viral pneumonia. He is out of the hospital but still hasn't returned to the team.
"We're trying to get him to recover from the pneumonia that he had and he looks like he's going to be alright," Burkholder said. "It's just that after you have something like that, it's tough to get your energy levels back up and make sure you can play and all that kind of stuff."
Coach Andy Reid has said that rookie Nick Foles will be the starting quarterback for the remainder of the season. So even after Vick is cleared to play, he won't unless something happens to Foles.
McCoy, though, likely will play in the Eagles' final two games against the Redskins and Giants. Rookie Bryce Brown, who has started the last three games in place of McCoy, rushed for 347 yards and four touchdowns against Carolina and Dallas, but managed just 6 yards on 12 carries in Tampa.
Asked Tuesday after practice how it felt to be back, McCoy said, "If I was back, I'd be playing."
Foles said it was good to have Vick and McCoy back on the practice field, even as limited participants.
"Just their presence, to be out there to help us young guys . . . is great for the team," Foles said. "It's a great vibe for the team."
Foles said it's not at all awkward having Vick out there.
"There's no awkwardness," the rookie said. "I've said before, Mike and I, our relationship has stayed the same. I'll always support Mike. I know he'll always support me, no matter what."
In other injury news, the only player who didn't practice Tuesday besides Celek and Patterson was left guard Evan Mathis, who is nursing an ankle injury. Mathis is expected to play against the Bengals.
Safety Kurt Coleman, who missed Sunday's game with a bruised sternum and was a limited practice participant Tuesday, isn't expected to play Thursday, which means Colt Anderson will get another start. Anderson played well in the win over the Bucs.
"I think it's going to be a stretch for him to be ready," Reid said of Coleman.
Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin also practiced on a limited basis Tuesday. He suffered a groin injury Sunday when Nnamdi Asomugha jumped on him after his game-winning touchdown catch. Maclin said he should be able to play against the Bengals.
End of d-line rotation
Two things have changed since Tommy Brasher replaced Jim Washburn as defensive-line coach last week. The wide-nine has gone the way of the Caribbean monk seal. And so has the regular eight-man line rotation that Washburn used to keep his linemen fresh.
In Sunday's 23-21 win over the Bucs, Brasher pretty much stuck with his four starters - ends Trent Cole and Brandon Graham and tackles Cullen Jenkins and Fletcher Cox - for a good portion of the game.
Cole, Graham, Jenkins and Cox all played at least 69 percent of the defensive snaps. Cole played a unit-high 53 of 68 snaps (77.9 percent). Jenkins and Cox each played 50 snaps, and Graham 47.
None of the other five defensive linemen who were active played more than 25 snaps.
"I knew it was going to be different when Tommy took over," said Cole, who played for Brasher as a rookie before the coach retired. "I tried to forewarn the guys. [Starters] are going to play a lot more in his system. His thought process is for us to get in our groove and to get a bead on what's going on out there."