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December 9 Camden Courier-Post:
“Good news for the Eagles: Pro Bowl cornerback Asante Samuel and left defensive end Juqua Parker each returned to practice Wednesday and are expected to play Sunday against Dallas after each sat out the past two games with injuries.
Now for the bad news: Right tackle Winston Justice’s status remains up in the air.
Head coach Andy Reid withheld Justice from Wednesday’s practice after he was convinced that the five days off following Thursday’s win over Houston wasn’t enough to get Justice’s knee where it needs to be.
“Well, we just have to make sure he can function at a level where he can play in a game,” Reid said. “He’s not there right now.”
If Justice can’t play, his spot will be taken by third-year reserve King Dunlap, who started two games earlier this year at left tackle in place of Jason Peters.
Justice, who hasn’t missed a start since taking over the position before the start of last season, said he still felt soreness but added that he’s less sore when he jogs than when he walks.
He took part in some of the morning walkthrough, which he interpreted as an encouraging sign that he might be able to practice, but it didn’t materialize.
“In my mind I’m telling myself yes,” Justice said when asked if he’d improved enough to practice this week. “Because I think with injuries, it starts with your mind first.”
When he does get back onto the field, Justice will wear a brace around his right knee until it’s fully recovered. Justice said he wore a brace in college — he was a 2006 second-round pick out of University of Southern California — because all of the linemen were instructed to wear them.
“The brace makes it feel more stable and that means I’ll have more confidence in it,” Justice added.
December 9 Camden Courier-Post:
“For the first time since those twin losses to rival Dallas that crash-landed the Eagles‘ once-promising 2009 season, Quintin Mikell recently looked closely at the game tape from the lopsided losses.
He couldn’t believe some of the things that kept replaying over and over — a lifeless offense, a defense that got steamrolled, a Dallas team that literally did whatever it wanted and a franchise quarterback who set the bizarre tempo by playing the air guitar before running out onto the field.
That’s right, one of the lasting images of 2009 was Donovan McNabb’s mimed strumming of a guitar in front of TV cameras as he ran out of the tunnel. One of the lasting poor performances of ’09 was McNabb’s inability to get his young offense in gear for those most critical games of the season. They were his last games as an Eagle.
“Obviously to get beat like that twice in a row, it was embarrassing,” Mikell said of how last season ended. “You go back and you watch the film and it doesn’t even look like the same team. Basically, we got manhandled.”
On McNabb’s air guitar antics, Mikell said: “I didn’t even see the whole guitar thing until this season. I was just like, “What?’ I was just like, “OK, (the criticism) makes sense.’ But that was last year, and we’ve got a new team and we’ve got a lot of new players and it’s fun. We’re having a good time. That wasn’t us, man. I don’t know what that was all about.”
Those two losses — one to end the regular season and the other to eliminate the Eagles from the playoffs in the first round — came by a combined score of 54-14 in a six-day span that seemed to forecast two division rivals headed in opposite directions.
The Cowboys returned virtually everyone from an 11-win team and were widely considered favorites to make the Super Bowl in 2010.
The Eagles instantly shifted into rebuilding mode. One by one, they jettisoned players who were either impact starters or significant contributors.”
December 9 Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Phil Sheridan:
“The Eagles‘ rivalry with the Dallas Cowboys is a big deal for fans in Philadelphia. It is much, much less so for the players who will actually line up Sunday night in Jerry Jones’ gaudy monument to Jerry Jones.
Michael Vick talked about the rivalry in the locker room Wednesday. But Vick took a handful of Wildcat snaps in the Eagles‘ two season-ending losses in Texas last year. In his previous NFL incarnation, that storied Falcons-Panthers rivalry was about as bitter as it got.
Vick was a kid when the Cowboys blasted the Eagles, 34-10, in a playoff game after the 1992 season. Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy weren’t born when Tom Landry’s picket-line-crossing varmints embarrassed Buddy Ryan’s replacement squad during the 1987 strike. Only six Eagles, including Vick, were alive when Wilbert Montgomery blasted through that hole in the 1980 NFC championship game at the Vet – and one of them, Sav Rocca, was in Australia at the time.
It is the fans who wear the old scars and bear the old grudges in this rivalry. Eagles fans came to hate the Cowboys during that period between 1967 and ’78 when Dallas won 21 of 23 meetings between the two teams. Worse, the woebegone Eagles took those beatings at the hands of the prim Landry and too-good-to-be-true Roger Staubach, among others. The whole “America’s Team” conceit and the softcore cheerleader porn – it made fans here seethe in a way the gritty rivals in New York and Washington never could.
The rivalry has always been more about the uniforms than the cast of players who wear them for brief periods at a time. That is truer all the time, as free agency turns players into itinerant workers.
When you say rivalry to Asante Samuel, you think his first reaction is Cowboys? It’s more likely Colts because of his time with the Patriots. And it’s most likely Deion Sanders because Samuel, like a lot of players, sees himself as an independent contractor rather than a part of something bigger.
In one of the stranger developments of a season full of them, the Eagles are awaiting Samuel’s return to the lineup as if he were some combination of Brian Dawkins and Seth Joyner. After seeing this defense strafed in Samuel’s absence, his dislike of contact and occasional bad gambles seem like endearing quirks.
Stranger still, the Eagles are 8-4, tied with the Giants in their division and part of a complicated NFC playoff puzzle. The Eagles know they need to win at least three of their four remaining games. They may even need to win all four to reach the playoffs.
So it is perfectly fitting, to those of us with elephantine recall, that the Eagles face the Cowboys twice in these final four weeks.”
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