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December 7 Philadelphia Daily News:
“The Eagles should be pretty close to full strength for Sunday night’s important game against the Cowboys in Texas.
On his weekly radio show on WIP last night, coach Andy Reid said he thinks cornerback Asante Samuel and defensive end Juqua Parker will practice this week and play.
Both players missed the last two games with injuries, Samuel with a sprained left medial collateral ligament and Parker with a hip pointer.
To say they were missed would be an understatement. In their absence, the defense gave up 55 points, 780 net yards, six touchdown passes and six TDs by opponents in seven red-zone opportunities.
“I think they will be [ready],” Reid said. “They both seem to be getting healthy. I think they’ll be out there and ready to go for practice [tomorrow].”
Samuel leads the NFL in interceptions with seven. The Eagles had only one pick in the two games he missed, by defensive tackle Trevor Laws.
With Parker out, rookie Brandon Graham took the most reps at left end, and his fatigue clearly showed in the second half Thursday night against the Texans.
Right tackle Winston Justice isn’t so certain to play against the Cowboys. He injured his knee in the fourth quarter of the Texans game. He was replaced by King Dunlap, who, except for picking up a quick holding penalty, actually held his own against defensive end Mario Williams.
“He’s doing better,” Reid said of Justice. “Not all the way back. But he’s getting better each day and making a lot of progress.”
December 7 Philadelphia Daily News:
“NATE ALLEN had three interceptions.
He had started every game of his rookie season.
He had begun to replace legendary safety Brian Dawkins in the minds of Eagles fans, if not in their hearts. He was the centerpiece of a dynamic rookie class of defenders.
But on the flight home from Nashville, Tenn., where the Eagles collapsed and gave away a win, Allen slunk in his seat and wondered how he’d played so badly.
“I flat-out had a lot of mistakes in that game. Gave up a lot of touchdowns,” Allen said.
His boss, defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, found himself with a happy problem: an accountable player at risk of burying himself seven games into the season facing a bye week.
“I give Nate credit for taking the blame. He didn’t need to do that. But that’s the type of guy he is. It wasn’t all his responsibility,” McDermott said.
That’s what he told the team’s second-round pick: Don’t bear all of the weight. Just take what’s yours.
“If you think it’s all your responsibility, and you go and try to make a play that isn’t your responsibility, you’re going to give up a play that is your responsibility,” McDermott said. “That’s what we talked about on the plane home that night. He wanted to be accountable. Which I appreciated.”
Allen took the advice to heart. He went home to Fort Myers, Fla., headed to the nearby pristine Gulf islands and enjoyed himself.
“I got my mind off of it,” Allen said. “Went to the beach – Sanibel and Captiva, with friends.”
He returned refreshed, again the keystone of the rookies who have made a big difference for an 8-4 Eagles team.
December 7 Philadelphia Inquirer:
“Brent Celek just hasn’t looked like himself.
For most of this season, the Eagles tight end has not resembled the 2009 version, when he caught 76 passes for 971 yards. This season as his receiving numbers have dipped – he’s on pace to finish with 40 catches for 456 yards – the question routinely has been, “What’s wrong with Celek?”
It took a few months and a slight turnaround for Celek to acknowledge that something was wrong. He injured his hamstring in training camp, and that along with an assortment of occupational bumps and bruises carried over into the regular season.
“I’m starting to think that,” Celek said Friday, a day after the Eagles defeated the Texans, 34-24. “I was getting beat up, and I think my body was just so worn down that I just needed a little bit of time off. . . . Maybe in the future when I have things like that, I have to be smarter about it.”
It took until after the bye week in late October, Celek said, to feel healthy again. Still, that did not solve every problem. The 25-year-old tight end had just two catches for 8 yards in the next three games as the Eagles asked him to block more.
Then he finally showed glimpses of Celek, circa 2009, against the Bears and Texans. He caught a thread-through-the-needle touchdown pass from Michael Vick in Chicago and was breaking tackles and carrying defenders against Houston.
“Whatever I have to do to help this team win, I’m going to do it,” Celek said after the game. “Because right now, the feeling we have after winning is ultimately the best.”
The Eagles are 8-4 and tied atop the NFC East with the New York Giants. There’s a chance that tie will be broken when the division leaders face off at the Meadowlands on Dec. 19. But first there is resurgent Dallas on Sunday. A revived Celek would go a long way toward helping the Eagles against a team they did not beat last season in three tries.
In those meetings, Celek caught 13 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown. He was the Eagles‘ most consistent pass catcher last season, finishing with less than three catches in a game only once. This season, that’s already occurred five times.
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