Eagles' Jamaal Jackson could go into opener cold

Andy Reid expects Jamaal Jackson to be ready to play in opener against Green Bay on Sept. 12.
Andy Reid expects Jamaal Jackson to be ready to play in opener against Green Bay on Sept. 12.
Posted: August 30, 2010

HARD TO SORT through to what seemed most important yesterday, when the Eagles took the practice field for the first time following Friday night's ragged, 20-17 preseason victory in Kansas City.

You had left guard Todd Herremans limping off early. Huge red flag, but then it turned out Herremans had just mildly sprained his right ankle, hadn't experienced any problems with his repaired left foot, which he tested Friday for the first time in the preseason. Big deal? Could further complicate getting Todd sharp and ready for the Sept. 12 opener. Or not.

You had wideout DeSean Jackson and defensive end Trent Cole sitting out practice, but the Eagles are downplaying their respective injuries from Friday - an upper-back strain that involves the neck, and an ankle, respectively. And the starters won't play in Thursday's preseason finale against the Jets anyway, Andy Reid said, so we're a week away from really worrying over whether somebody with a minor ding can practice.

You had Macho Harris suddenly practicing at free safety, after spending the whole summer as a corner. Reid said it was because rookie corner Trevard Lindley gave him the reassurances he needed against the Chiefs (translated: officially no roster spot there for Macho). Probably not a promising switch for Harris, jumping into a deep safety pool for the final week of the preseason.

You had center Nick Cole out there for a full-scale practice for the first time in weeks, giving lie to the rumor that he was abducted by aliens before the team left Lehigh. Cole worked in a bit at right guard, with Stacy Andrews. How important was Cole's return? Guessing he will play Thursday, for the first time in the preseason. But given that Reid now clearly seems to be rooting for Jamaal Jackson to be ready for the season opener, Cole is probably not headline material.

Ah, there we go.

The subtext yesterday was this: Even though Reid said Jackson won't play Thursday against the Jets, the first-team center saw his most extensive practice of the preseason yesterday. Reid said the plan is to "push him a little bit there, and just see how he responds. He said he feels well, and the doctors have given him the clear. So, we'll give him a little work."

Ever since Jackson came off the physically-unable-to-perform list 2 weeks ago, he has targeted the opener, but it was hard to get a fix on whether that was the ubiquitous "our aim is to win the Super Bowl this year"-level targeting, or whether it really stood a good chance of happening.

Starting to look like it stands a good chance of happening.

Reid said after his news conference that he wouldn't need to see Jackson in a preseason game to be comfortable starting him in the opener against Green Bay. He was pushed on a timetable for a decision.

"Well, the one nice thing is I can wait until the last day if I want," he said. "I just have to make sure I feel comfortable he can play. It's just that. Stamina, obviously, be able to stop the bull rush. We'll put him in situations where we give him all those looks here, over the next couple of weeks."

Jackson sprained an ACL last Dec. 27 against Denver, a little more than 8 months back. Many athletes with ACL repairs are able to play in 9 months or less, but often they later say it took them a full year to really feel solid and confident. Right guard Stacy Andrews, coming off an end-of-the-season ACL when the Eagles signed him in 2009, basically lost the whole year to a slow start coming off the surgery, compounded by a lack of familiarity with the Eagles' scheme. (Or part of the problem could just be that Andrews isn't what the Eagles thought he was when they signed him. It will be interesting to see if he can hold off a challenge from Cole.)

Reid again hinted at what he expects to happen at center, at the end of an answer to a question about the offensive line being a work in progress: "I think the positive is that Mike McGlynn went in and did a nice job at the center spot, so that gives us great flxibility. We know he can play guard, and we know Nick can play the center and the guard spot. I think it's a good situation. I think they're all familiar with each other and how they play. It's just a matter of Kevin [Kolb, the quarterback] getting back on the same page with Jamaal. Every center is a little bit different, but that won't take but a second. You don't forget how to ride a bike, right? That's familiar territory."

Lindley looking good

Trevard Lindley, a fourth-round rookie, didn't look overmatched when the coaching staff gave him some reps at corner against the Chiefs' first-team offense. He intercepted Matt Cassel.

"I got a little nervous at one point," getting ready for the opportunity, Lindley said, but he calmed down and played.

The Eagles' corners are likely to be Asante Samuel, Ellis Hobbs, Joselio Hanson, Dimitri Patterson and Lindley, a grouping that became more likely with the switch of Macho Harris back to safety.


Andy Reid said DeSean Jackson, in addition to being "pretty tender in the upper back, neck area" after taking a strong hit from Kansas City's Eric Berry on the Eagles' first play Friday, will have his wisdom teeth removed today, "so he's getting a double dose here" . . . Of Trent Cole's ankle sprain, Reid said: "It doesn't look to be a major one, but he does have a sprain" . . . Linebacker Ernie Sims was a limited participant yesterday because of a forearm muscle strain, Reid said . . . Fifth-round rookie defensive end Ricky Sapp suffered a knee injury during special-teams practice, a possible prelude to the injured reserve list for a player who hasn't looked ready to contribute this season . . . Cornerback Dimitri Patterson has a groin strain, Reid said . . . Reid said he was easing Nick Cole back in, given that Cole hasn't practiced at all in several weeks . . . WR Jeremy Maclin declined to discuss his struggles Friday night . . . Andy Reid confirmed that DeSean Jackson will return punts in the regular season and Ellis Hobbs will return kicks.

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