Eagles set to face depleted Patriots
PHILADELPHIA (AP) -- No matter how many New England Patriots are injured, they still have No. 12.
The Philadelphia Eagles (4-7) aren't good enough to take any team lightly, especially not Brady and the Patriots (10-1).
Brady won't have receiver Julian Edelman and All-Pro tight end Rob Gronkowski is expected to be out because of injuries on Sunday, but he makes everyone around him better.
"Did they lose Brady? Because that I think would really, truly affect them," Eagles coach Chip Kelly said Thursday. "And I think it really just speaks to how good of a football player Tom is and the fact that they have had a lot of moving pieces around him.
"For them, it's that next-man-up mentality, which it really helps when he's the guy pulling the trigger because he really is an orchestra leader out there in terms of directing protections, changing routes and changing everything."
The Eagles have lost three straight games and allowed 90 points in consecutive losses to Tampa Bay and Detroit. Jameis Winston and Matthew Stafford each threw five touchdown passes against them.
If Brady had all his top options, he could break records against this defense. He'll certainly pick on rookie cornerback Eric Rowe, who will make his first career start. Rowe replaced Nolan Carroll against the Lions and allowed two touchdown passes to Calvin Johnson.
"I believe in Eric and I think he's a young guy that will get more and more confident," defensive coordinator Bill Davis said. "We have a lot of confidence in our scheme and our flexibility and the different things we can go in and out of and we'll have to do that.
"We have to keep it moving. When you face these top-notch quarterbacks that are really coordinators on the field, you've got to move it around a little bit on them."
Though they struggled against a rookie and an inconsistent quarterback in consecutive weeks, the Eagles had success earlier in the season against Tony Romo, Drew Brees and Eli Manning.
Brady is a different story.
"They find a way to find players that kind of fit and they know what the individual player can do and they try to maximize that," Kelly said. "It all starts and ends with (Brady). He's a first-ballot Hall of Famer and it's a huge challenge for us to have to go up and defend him because he's running the whole show."
Notes: RB Ryan Mathews (concussion, groin) missed practice again on Thursday, but DE Cedric Thornton (ankle) and S Walter Thurmond (hamstring, calf) were back on the field.
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