Tough assignment for Eagles' Herremans in first game back from injury

Guard Todd Herremans, out since August with foot stress fracture, gets tough assignment tonight.
Guard Todd Herremans, out since August with foot stress fracture, gets tough assignment tonight.
Posted: October 26, 2009

FOR A GUY WHO hasn't played a snap since the NFC Championship Game, there might be easier ways to get back into the flow than by lining up against Washington's Albert Haynesworth, the NFL's dominant defensive tackle. But thanks to Antonio Dixon, Todd Herremans says he's ready.

"[Haynesworth]'s a great player; I look forward to it," said Herremans, the Eagles' left guard who has been out since midAugust with a stress fracture in his left foot.

Dixon, who has made a place for himself in the Birds' defensive rotation since being released by the Redskins just before the season started, had the assignment of mimicking Haynesworth for Herremans in practice this past week.

"He played in Washington, played [with Haynesworth] earlier this year. He knows the game and he knows some of the things he does. He gave me a good look," Herremans said of Dixon, who stayed out after practice to help. "Obviously, it's not going to be anything like what I see in the game, but I think I'm ready."

Dixon said he didn't have to execute any fancy moves to pretend to be Haynesworth, who is listed at 6-6, 350, to Dixon's 6-3, 322.

"Just bull-rush," Dixon said. "That's all he does."

Asked what makes Haynesworth so formidable, Dixon said: "He's big, fast strong. He's just gifted."

Another challenge for Herremans is not playing at all, then playing twice in 6 days, assuming his foot holds up and he starts again Sunday against the Giants.

"This week seems like it's taking forever, but I just keep in the back of my mind that I know next week's going to go real fast," Herremans said.

With Herremans returning and Max Jean-Gilles listed as questionable with a shoulder problem, Nick Cole will start at right guard instead of left. When or if you will see Stacy Andrews playing a significant role remains a question.

"He's getting there," coach Andy Reid said over the weekend, when asked about Andrews' progress. Offseason ACL surgery seems to have left him tentative.

"I thought he played well in the snaps he had last week. He is getting more familiar with the offense and feeling better, physically, as we go. It looks like he is more willing to stick that leg in the ground, which he was struggling to do before. We'll just see how he does this week."

Right tackle Winston Justice, meanwhile, joked about Cole's stubby 6-foot, 350-pound frame, when he was asked how things would be different for him with Cole replacing Jean-Gilles.

"I can see [center] Jamaal [Jackson] a lot better, because he's so short," Justice said.

Where there's a Will, there's a way

Will Witherspoon made it through the week of practice and thinks he is as ready as he'll ever be to start at middle linebacker tonight, less than a week after being traded to the Eagles from the Rams.

"I definitely feel like I have a pretty good grasp of things," Witherspoon said over the weekend. "I'll go out there and do what I need to do."

Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said this past week that he didn't know of any comparable situations, anyone who has ever exactly done what Witherspoon is being asked to do.

"That's the farthest thing from my mind," Witherspoon said. "I'm just excited to get the opportunity, and I'm going to make the best of it."

Witherspoon said the Eagles' defense has indeed proved to be similar to what he was running in St. Louis, under former Birds assistant Steve Spagnuolo.

"I kind of had a general idea what was going on. There were some nuances, some things that were different . . . I think I've done a pretty good job of getting it all done," he said.

(Ahem), injuries

Andy Reid announced over the weekend that Kevin Curtis had his ailing knee 'scoped, out in Logan, Utah. Reid said the minor procedure probably would not end Curtis' season.

Curtis went for another opinion after repeated MRIs showed nothing structurally wrong, but pain persisted.

"They didn't see much in the MRI. MRIs don't always show everything, so they went in and just checked things out," Reid said. "There wasn't too much in there that they had to work on. They just snipped a few little things in there, but it wasn't a major thing."

Also, linebacker Omar Gaither had his Lisfranc surgery, needing just one screw to pull the bones together, Reid noted, instead of two. That could be significant in that while they have said Gaither's season probably is over, the Birds have not put Gaither on injured reserve. Maybe if his early rehab goes well, they'd like to keep his spot open for the stretch drive or the playoffs.

This relates to Curtis, though - the Eagles currently have just four healthy wideouts, including little-used Reggie Brown. If someone in that group gets hurt before Curtis returns, they're going to have to make a roster move, and the obvious one would be to IR Gaither.

Defensive end Victor Abiamiri (knee) and cornerback Dimitri Patterson (quad) also are out for tonight's game.

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

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