Eagles Notes: Asomugha returns to light practice

Nnamdi Asomugha is driven off the field after Monday's collision with safety Nate Allen during drills.
Nnamdi Asomugha is driven off the field after Monday's collision with safety Nate Allen during drills. (BILL ADAMS / Express-Times)
Posted: August 18, 2012

Nnamdi Asomugha returned to practice three days after running into Nate Allen in a collision that looked much scarier than the end result.

The Eagles cornerback, however, did the bare minimum on Thursday and left before the more strenuous part of practice began. The team said Asomugha left early because of a sore neck that Eagles coach Andy Reid said Tuesday came from the whiplash of the hit.

Asomugha also suffered a lacerated lip when his head hit Allen's chest.

There was no timetable for his full return. The Eagles practice at the NovaCare Complex for the next three days before traveling to New England on Monday for their second preseason game.

Curtis Marsh has been the third outside cornerback on the depth chart after Asomugha and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie. He has taken some repetitions in Asomugha's place, but the second-year corner has been limited by a hamstring strain.

Brandon Hughes could be slated to start against quarterback Tom Brady and the Patriots.

"It's an opportunity, no matter who you go against," Hughes said. "There's 31 teams - you don't play all 31, but when you get an opportunity to go up against a guy in this league it's an opportunity."

Hughes is on the roster bubble. Asomugha, Rodgers-Cromartie, Marsh, and rookie Brandon Boykin are virtually guaranteed roster spots. Joselio Hanson has been the first-team nickel corner and looks to have locked up a spot.

Hanson left practice early after he dislocated his right pinkie. Boykin, who has been vying for the nickel job, stepped in for Hanson.

A left triceps spasm forced Antonio Dixon from practice. The defensive tackle tore his left triceps on Oct. 2 of last year and was placed on injured reserve.

Full on fullback

Despite the devaluing of the fullback position in the NFL, Reid seemed to imply that he will keep one on his 53-man roster.

"In our offense you need a fullback," he said.

The Eagles currently have two on their 90-man roster - second-year fullback Stanley Havili and undrafted rookie Emil Igwenagu.

Both bring different skills to the position. Havili (6-foot, 245 pounds) was more of a runner and pass-catcher at Southern California. He said he still needs to improve as a lead run blocker.

Igwenagu (6-2, 245) has more experience as a blocker and can also play some tight end, as he did on occasion during the Bethlehem portion of training camp.

"It's just he's more versatile playing tight end and I'm more versatile playing running back," Havili said. "It's just two different sides."

Both will need to play special teams. Havili said that he's playing on all four special teams units - kickoff, kickoff return, punt, and punt return.

"We saw this the last preseason game last year where he kind of got a feel on special teams," Reid said of Havili. "He can be a factor there."

Last season, fullback Owen Schmitt lined up for only 174 of 1,036 offensive snaps for the Eagles, according to ProFootballFocus.com - approximately half of how many he played the season before.

The Eagles could decide to forego keeping a traditional fullback and instead keep a fourth tailback and ask him to lead block when necessary. Rookie Chris Polk, who has more blocking experience, would probably fill that role more than fellow rookie Bryce Brown if that were the case.

Extra points

A magnetic resonance image revealed that linebacker Casey Matthews has a high-ankle sprain, Reid said. He did not practice. . . . Reid said that there was a chance that Jason Babin could return for the final preseason game on Aug. 30. The Pro Bowl defensive end has not practiced since he suffered a calf sprain July 28. . . . Guard Brandon Washington was cleared to return to practice after sitting out a week with a concussion.

Contact Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745 or jmclane@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @Jeff_McLane.


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