December 11 Philadelphia Daily News:
“ASANTE SAMUEL, the Punxsutawney Phil of Eagles practice, ducked out the door of the indoor facility with an assistant athletic trainer, just a few minutes into the team’s workout yesterday.
Along the sideline, a row of reporters lowered their heads, peered at screens and began tweeting the unhappy news.
Samuel isn’t officially sidelined for tomorrow night’s visit to the Cowboys. But the fact that the NFL’s interception leader got all dressed up yesterday, then managed only a light 50-yard jog before cutting short his workout, makes Andy Reid’s assessment of Samuel as “questionable” seem optimistic.
Reid said he wanted to see how Samuel (and fellow nonpracticing knee victim Winston Justice) did overnight before deciding whether they would accompany the team to Dallas today. Reid said Samuel “didn’t feel very good” when he practiced on Wednesday, “so we backed off of him. We’re giving him treatment, and we’ll just see how things go.”
Samuel eventually consented to talk at his locker.
“Y’all going to put more pressure on me than Andy,” he grumbled as reporters ringed his dressing space. “It’s a day-to-day thing. Every day, progress is being made. We just gotta see.”
Samuel said he wouldn’t call his Wednesday practice experience a setback, but “it was uncomfortable.”
Asked whether he thought he’d be going to Dallas, Samuel said: “We’ll see. We’ll see how it goes.”
In case you’re just tuning in, Samuel suffered an MCL sprain late in the Eagles‘ victory over the Giants on Nov. 21. He has missed the last two games. When he sat out against Houston, a week ago Thursday, the premise was that a 9-day break before Dallas would get Samuel ready for the stretch drive. But after being a limited practice participant Wednesday, Samuel didn’t practice again this week.
The Eagles‘ defense without Samuel was fatally vulnerable to big plays in Chicago, a little less so against Houston, but still far from as dangerous to throw on as it is with him.
“The last couple of games, I was proud of what they did,” Reid said. “But, again, you’re talking about Asante. He’s a great player. Would you like him to be in there? Yeah, absolutely. But the other guys sure did a nice job. Thus, if Asante can go, he’ll go in this game. And if he can’t, then I have full trust in the other guys.”
Joselio Hanson has started while Samuel has been out. In nickel situations, Hanson moves inside, where he plays when Samuel is healthy, and rookie Trevard Lindley takes Samuel’s spot.
“I get more comfortable with every rep,” Hanson said yesterday. “I expect a very solid game from me.”
Hanson, listed at 5-9, 185 pounds, seems a couple of inches shorter than Samuel, who is listed at 5-10, 185. Dallas starts 6-2 Miles Austin and 6-3 Roy Williams at wideout, supplemented by 6-3 Sam Hurd and 6-1 Kevin Ogletree. Asked about the Dallas matchups yesterday, Hanson said: “They’ve got big receivers. Which team out there doesn’t?
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