By Justin Adkins:
The Eagles game this Sunday night against the Dallas Cowboys is already intriguing on many levels. It just got more interesting.
Cornerback Asante Samuel and right tackle Winston Justice have both been officially ruled out for the game and will not travel with the team to Dallas. Both players had previously been listed as Questionable by Andy Reid earlier this week. After Saturday’s walkthrough Practice, Reid made the decision to downgrade their status, keeping them from playing this week.
So while Dallas has already lost one of their top receiving threats when Dez Bryant broke his ankle, the Eagles have definitely lost their best corner. Samuel suffered an MCL sprain against the Giants on Nov. 21 and hasn’t played in the past two games. The Eagles pass coverage has been majorly impacted, especially against Chicago, when quarterback Jay Cutler dropped 4 touchdown passes on them.
Joselio Hanson will continue to start in Samuel’s place. “Mentally, you’ve got to prepare yourself like you’re going to start, because you don’t want any surprises on game day, you don’t want to feel like you’re thrown into the fire,” said Hanson Friday, before the official decision on Samuel was made. “But I’ve taken the reps all week and I feel comfortable.”
While Hanson is considered the starter, he will continue to serve in the nickel role as well. Rookie Trevard Lindley fills Samuel’s shoes on the outside in those situations.
Hanson faces the proverbial tall order against Dallas’ receiver group. Generously listed at 5’9″, Hanson will potentially have to go up against Miles Austin (6’2″), Roy Williams (6’3″), Sam Hurd (6’3″), and Kevin Ogletree (6’1”).
Filling in for Justice at RT will be King Dunlap, who took the majority of snaps this week in practice. Dunlap filled in fairly well earlier this season when left tackle Jason Peters missed time due to injury. Unfortunately, the Eagles have recently had problems with Dallas’ front seven, evidenced by last year’s repeated beatings, and the loss of the consistent Justice will likely have that group excited to take a crack at the inexperienced Dunlap.
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