As if reporters covering the Eagles don't have enough to do during the holiday season, Reggie Brown saddled them with another task yesterday, the day offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg brought Brown back into the wideout mix for Sunday's game at Washington.

We must ask Andy Reid today why Reggie hasn't been playing, so Reggie will know.

When Brown was asked yesterday why he thought he'd fallen behind Hank Baskett and Jason Avant in the pecking order, he said: "That's a question you can ask Reid. Then maybe you can come back down here and tell me. 'Cause I don't know. I don't get answers."

Actually, if memory serves, Reid has been asked that question a time or two during the 2 weeks that the 2005 second-round pick and erstwhile starter has been inactive. The answer has been along the lines of "the gosh-darned other guys are doing such a heckuva good job, as great a receiver as Reggie is and has always been, it's gosh-darned tough to get back in there."

Maybe Reid will really level with us today. (Show of hands out there - that'll happen, right?)

In the meantime, Baskett (knee) seems unlikely to play, and Kevin Curtis (calf) hasn't practiced this week, so yesterday, Mornhinweg announced plans to dust off Brown, presumably hoping he responds to being benched the way Donovan McNabb did.

Mornhinweg first agreed with a questioner's premise that he was going to miss Baskett this week, then Mornhinweg seemed to remember he worked for Reid and began acting as if the situation remained undecided. But no one around the team thinks Baskett is playing, with a sprained MCL suffered against Cleveland.

"We'll see how everything pans out," Mornhinweg said, eventually. "The guys are doing everything possible to make it to this football game. Reggie will play probably quite a little bit more, and maybe even start the football game, so we'll see."

What does Brown intend to do with the (presumed) opportunity?

"Play ball," he said. "Hopefully, try to contribute to the cause around here."

Asked what he thought he had to show the coaches, Brown said: "Show 'em what? To get back on the field? Before I got hurt [a groin injury in practice the week after the Oct. 5 Washington game] I came back out to be the leading receiver in two games," the Chicago and Washington losses, in which Brown caught six and four passes, respectively. "If that's not enough to show 'em . . . I can't do anything more than I'm already doing. It's their decision whether or not to play me. It's just my decision whether or not to go out there and do my best and try to help this team make it to the playoffs, and that's what I'm going to do."

Mornhinweg and Reid decided after the debacle at Baltimore on Nov. 23 to cut down to four wideouts in most situations, instead of trying to incorporate six, as they had previously whenever everyone was healthy. Greg Lewis, whose special-teams role kept him from being deactivated, was one of those left out. Brown, who had no special-teams role, was the other. His spot on the 45-man active list has been taken by running back Kyle Eckel.

"Reggie doesn't need to show me anything," Mornhinweg said. "He's a good football player. I told him a while back that he has to keep this thing going, and get his reps and catches in practice, and spend some extra time, because we're going to need him."

Brown (13 catches, 192 yards) hasn't caught a pass since Nov. 16, at Cincinnati. He has missed four games with injuries, including the first two games of the season, an interlude that helped rookie DeSean Jackson establish himself as the team's top wideout. Avant and Baskett lack Brown's speed and smoothness, but they are bigger and seemingly tougher - more likely to take the ball away from a defender, or flag down an awkwardly thrown pass.

"I've tried to [find out the reasons for the demotion]. I don't get answers," Brown said.

Brown was asked if this was the most trying time he has experienced in the NFL.

"Most definitely," he said, before politely excusing himself to search for his jersey so he could head onto the practice field. For some reason, it was draped over a laundry cart, instead of hanging in his stall.

It's been that kind of year.

Birdseed

Tackle

Jon Runyan

(knee) did not practice, in addition to

Hank Baskett

and

Kevin Curtis

, mentioned above . . . Left guard

Todd Herremans

(shoulder, ankle) was listed as a limited participant, as was running back

Brian Westbrook

(knee) . . .

Jim Johnson

's silvery whiskers have joined the Eagles' beard-growing movement. "I'm not superstitious, but I'm not going to shave this right now," Johnson said. *

For more Eagles coverage and opinion, read the Daily News' Eagles blog, Eagletarian, at www.eagletarian.com.