For Eagles, Jackson confident, Samuel coy, and Justice unsure

Posted: December 18, 2010

DeSean Jackson, Asante Samuel, and Winston Justice are all listed as questionable after a day of practice that provided hints about their availability for Sunday's huge game against the Giants, but little clarity.

All three were limited in Friday's practice. Jackson reiterated that he expects to play, while Samuel danced around the question. Tackle King Dunlap said he expects to start, but Justice refused to rule himself out.

Jackson gave the closest thing to a definitive answer.

"I can't let my troops go out and go to war without me," said Jackson, who has a foot sprain. "At the end of the day, I've got two days to get ready, so I should be fine."

Could he be at full speed?

"I should be right there, pretty close," Jackson said. He said his injury affects him while cutting side-to-side, but not his straight-ahead speed.

Samuel, who participated in Wednesday's practice in full but was limited the following days, signaling a setback, was coy about whether he could play.

"Each day I wake up and it's a better day. Every day feels better, so I'm just looking forward to tomorrow and the next day," said Samuel, who leads the NFL in interceptions. He has missed three consecutive games with a sprained medial collateral ligament. He last played Nov. 21 when the Eagles beat the Giants.

Dunlap, meanwhile, said he took all of the first-team repetitions in practice this week and therefore believes he'll start.

"As far as I know, I am" starting, Dunlap said. "I've been taking the reps with the starters all week."

Justice, who hyperextended his knee against the Texans two games ago, said his "expectation" is to play but sounded more like someone setting a goal - "that's everyone's expectation" - than being sure he can go. He said a final decision would likely be made late Friday or Saturday.

"I feel like I could play, but if I was playing right now I wouldn't be 100 percent," Justice said.

Andy Reid said he wanted to see how the players feel after Friday's practice.

Either Dunlap or Justice will be charged with protecting Michael Vick's blind side from Justin Tuck, who had three sacks in the first Eagles-Giants game of the year.

"Every offensive tackle in the National Football League would tell you that when you play this defensive line and defensive ends, that that's a challenge," Reid said. "So it's no different for King than the other offensive tackles."

Dunlap has started three games so far this year, including filling in for Justice against the Cowboys last week.

"Their defense is based around their front four guys," Dunlap said. "The game will be won up front between us, our front line and their front line. We've just got to play our game and our technique."

Newly signed defensive end Derrick Burgess said he felt good in practice this week, as he returned to the field for the first time since the Patriots released him at the end of the preseason, but gave no hints about whether he would play Sunday.

"He felt pretty good today, and we'll see how he feels tomorrow and go from there," Reid said.

Darryl Tapp could play more at defensive end, and the Eagles also have third-round pick Daniel Te'o-Nesheim as an option.

Extra points

Donovan McNabb's benching will not affect the conditional draft pick the Eagles are set to receive from the Redskins. The trade conditions tied to playing time were already moot. The Eagles are set to receive a 2011 fourth-round pick as part of the trade. It could have turned into a third rounder if McNabb played 70 percent of his team's snaps and the Redskins won nine games or reached the playoffs. Neither of those final two conditions is possible anymore, so his playing time is irrelevant. The pick could still become a third-rounder if McNabb reaches the Pro Bowl, but that is unlikely. . . . Linebackers Stewart Bradley (elbow) and Keenan Clayton (hamstring) were ruled out of Sunday's game. . . . The NFL confirmed a $12,500 fine on the Cowboys' Anthony Spencer for hitting Michael Vick in the head and neck area. The fine had been reported earlier in the week.


Contact staff writer Jonathan Tamari at 215-854-5214 or jtamari@phillynews.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/JonathanTamari.

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