Les Bowen: Further review: Eagles' wideout corps looking thin

Posted: December 01, 2009

WHAT'S THAT? DeSean Jackson might not play this week because of a concussion? Well, guess it's time for the Eagles to see what Brandon Gib ... oh, yeah. Traded Gibson to the Rams for Will Witherspoon, didn't they? No problem, let's just rummage around the practice-squad bag of tricks for that Danny Amend ... Amendola too, really? Rams again? Thank goodness the Eagles still have Hank Bask ... oops. Baskett got cut, back when they added Mike Vick to the active roster, and he was picked up by the Colts, you say?

Well, darn. OK, how about this - the Eagles opted not to put Kevin Curtis on IR when he underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on Oct. 24. That must mean they expect him to return and contribute. It's been 5 weeks now, so I'm guessing we'll see Kev ...

"Curtis isn't ready," Andy Reid said yesterday. "Curtis will be listed as out this week."

So, the master plan, assuming no DJax, would be to start Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant, with Reggie Brown(!) as the third guy. Coming off the bench would be ... ?

Right now, nobody. Can you go into a game that way? Don't think so. Unless Reid plans to play Vick at wide receiver, where he has never practiced, one of two things seems likely. Either Jackson is going to play (and I don't see how they could really know that right now), or there's a roster move coming.

Are they going to IR Curtis, at long last? Doesn't seem likely. They've stuck with him this long. Also unlikely would be bringing in a wideout from somewhere else who doesn't know the offense. Could you afford to, say, jettison corner Geoffrey Pope if you're feeling better about your secondary situation? That would give you a spot to use for practice-squad wideout Jordan Norwood, the rookie from Penn State.

There isn't that much maneuvering room elsewhere on the roster. Don't see axing P.J. Hill until Brian Westbrook returns. Jeremiah Trotter looked like a luxury a few weeks ago, but clearly isn't now. Tough decision.

Developing story lines

* Doesn't sound as if Akeem Jordan (knee) is likely to return this week against Atlanta. I still say, play Tracy White at weakside linebacker and move Will Witherspoon back to the middle, where he was much better. Regardless, the Birds are going to need Jordan back pretty soon; this defense is hanging on by its fingernails.

* This is the final week for the Joselio Hanson suspension. Worth noting that if it had gone into effect right after he'd lost his appeal, Oct. 27, he'd be back by now.

* Andy Reid noted that David Akers is "kicking as well as any kicker in the National Football League right now.'' Hard to argue. Akers has made three Pro Bowls, none since 2004. This might be his year to go back. Easier task for Akers than for Donovan McNabb, who is competing against huge statistical years from Brett Favre, Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers.

* I'll mildly disagree with Big Red's assertion that his defensive ends got good pressure on Jason Campbell Sunday. Fourth quarter, they did. The other three quarters, not so much. The only sack again came from Trent Cole, and was kind of a gimme, on the final snap of the first half.

* Speaking of d-ends, had no idea there was any controversy on Juqua Parker's fourth-down hit of Jason Campbell ending the Redskins' last drive until long after the game. Like most people, I was mostly watching the ball, which skidded off the ground short of intended target Santana Moss. After watching the replays, yeah, Parker should have released Campbell instead of taking him to the ground. Eagles were lucky there was no flag. Different from any of two dozen other borderline calls in the game? Nah.

* The Eagles' injury picture looks dire, especially if DeSean Jackson doesn't play this week. Before you jump on the catastrophe bandwagon, note that the Birds play Atlanta and the Giants the next 2 weeks. Matt Ryan (toe) isn't going to play against the Eagles, and Michael Turner (ankle) is iffy. Eli Manning's latest foot setback might be putting his season at risk. The Giants are parsing the difference between a stress reaction and a stress fracture, just as the Eagles were doing with Todd Herremans in the preseason - until Herremans developed a stress fracture, and had to have surgery.

Who knew?

That kicking an oblong ball along the ground, with guys from both teams scurrying after it, wasn't a sure thing, just because you had a few more guys chasing it than the other team?

Obscure stat

In the NFL, there are guys with more catches than DeSean Jackson's 44, and guys averaging more than Jackson's 17.5 yards per catch. But none of the guys averaging that many yards per catch has as many as 44 catches.

Extra point

There will be an extra layer of hoopla this week surrounding Michael Vick's return to Atlanta. Vick probably wishes he was coming off last week's game, when he could point to a 34-yard run and a third-down conversion on a handoff to LeSean McCoy as his most recent work. As meager as those accomplishments might seem for a three-time Pro Bowl quarterback, they're way better than Sunday's two carries for 4 yards and one incomplete pass.

The problem with the way the Eagles try to use Vick is, he comes in for one snap, leaves, then might or might not show up again at some point way down the line. The pass play against the Redskins, my recollection is he play-faked, then rolled left before missing a wide-open Brent Celek. It was a sequence that required really precise timing.

Awful miss, yes, but how easy is it to do something like that, coming in cold? I've talked to Vick about this a couple times. He knows anything he says sounds like an excuse, but it's a fact - as rusty as he is, the Eagles manage to make him look even rustier by the way they use him.

"In between series he continues to throw, both he and Kevin [Kolb]," Andy Reid said yesterday. "Is it tough? It shouldn't be too tough. He'll be fine. We'll get him a few more reps in there and he'll be fine."

A few more reps - that would be the issue.

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