Eagles have tough schedule stretch ahead

BY foxsports • October 28, 2009

Brian Westbrook was knocked out with a concussion. He was on the ground, motionless, with only his brother and Eagles coach Andy Reid allowed near him. Westbrook walked off the field, but he would not return. He may not be back as the Eagles enter the grueling part of their schedule. The Eagles played only one team (New Orleans) with a winning record in the first six games and blew a major shot at sharing the NFC East lead with an embarrassing loss to struggling Oakland (2-5). Now the schedule gets tougher. Up next, Sunday's game against the New York Giants only hours before the Phillies play the Yankees across the street in Game 4 of the World Series. Then another home game against Dallas. The outcomes could shake up the NFC playoff picture. "We obviously know in this division, it can be a half-game, a game away from you being in first or you being in second," quarterback Donovan McNabb said. Having a healthy Westbrook would be a boost. He left with a concussion in the first quarter of Monday night's 27-17 victory over the Washington Redskins. He will go through medical tests before his status for next week is determined. Reid said on Tuesday that Westbrook has not been ruled out for Sunday. An update texted to reporters said that Reid was "counting on that he'll be there but we'll see how tests go." LeSean McCoy would carry the bulk of the rushing load if Westbrook misses significant time. "He went down so fast," McCoy said. "I was preparing to go in there eventually, but not that early. It was a little different for me, to go out and get started earlier than usual, and to get the ball more than usual too." Reid says he won't risk Westbrook's health at the expense of a game. Plus, the Eagles are used to playing without the injury-prone running back. Westbrook and the Eagles were off on Tuesday. He was scheduled to meet with the media at his usual time on Wednesday depending on his practice availability. Hard to imagine he'll practice two days after he was knocked into a daze when his helmet collided with linebacker London Fletcher's right knee. The Eagles have won this year without McNabb (ribs) and can do it without Westbrook. But they need something - more Michael Vick? Less wildcat? - to fix an offense that can strike with big plays, but is otherwise inconsistent. The final point total looks good, and sometimes that's all that matters. But the Eagles can't always count on DeSean Jackson scoring on 67-yard runs and a 57-yard reception to offset a meager 156 yards passing game out of McNabb. Jackson, named NFC offensive player of the week, was the second player in team history to have a rushing and receiving touchdown of 50-plus yards in the same game. "DeSean had some nice plays," Reid said. "It was hit-and-miss on offense." Jackson strained his right foot, but should be ready to play Sunday. The Eagles (4-2) had only 11 first downs and converted only four of 15 third downs. Vick and the wildcat did almost nothing, and that experiment continues to confound Eagles fans more than opponents. Woeful Redskins or not, the Eagles needed the win. Taking a page from the Phillies playbook with their successful in-season pickups of Cliff Lee and Pedro Martinez, the Eagles looked they got a steal in linebacker Will Witherspoon. Witherspoon, acquired in a trade with the St. Louis Rams last week, started at middle linebacker, ran back an interception for a touchdown and created another turnover. "For the first game with a new team, for me, it put the stamp on it, saying, 'Hey, this is exactly what I want to bring to this team. This is exactly who I want to be,"' Witherspoon said. The Eagles aren't where they want to be yet. There are few pushovers the rest of the way - Atlanta, San Francisco, Denver all loom on the schedule - so the Eagles understand the importance of those home division games. "We're in a great position right now with what we've been able to accomplish on offense," McNabb said.

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