Team Report: Philadelphia Eagles

Hugh Douglas defected to Jacksonville. Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila said thanks but no thanks.<br> <br> Which begs the question, what are the Eagles going to do about their right defensive end position?

Would you believe nothing?

While head coach Andy Reid is leaving open the possibility that his team may select a defensive end in the draft later this month and/or sign a veteran on the cheap after June 1, he insisted this week that he would be quite content to open the season with Derrick Burgess as his starting right end.

Burgess, a third-round pick in the '01 draft, showed a lot of promise as a rookie, notching six sacks in a part-time role. But he suffered a fracture of the fifth metatarsal bone in his right foot in Week One last year and missed the rest of the season.

He had bone graft surgery on the foot in February, and doctors have assured the Eagles that he'll be ready to play by the start of training camp. But his foot still is in a boot and he is not scheduled to participate in any of the club's spring minicamps.

"I feel very confident about him," Reid said. "The foot's healing well. He's rehabbing well. He should be fine. I think he'll do a very good job over there (at right end)."

With the emergence last year of tackle Darwin Walker and the expected return of Hollis Thomas, who also missed last season with a broken foot, the Eagles have some flexibility up front. In short-yardage situations, they can pull the 265-pound Burgess and slide Walker outside, much like they did in the NFC Championship Game loss to Tampa Bay.

They also have a capable edge rusher in N.D. Kalu, who had a career-high eight sacks last season. Reid said last week that he believes both Burgess and Kalu are capable of double-digit sack seasons this year.

"Derrick had six sacks as a part-time player as a rookie. ND had eight as a part-time guy last year, and a lot of the time, he was lining up as the `joker' (middle linebacker in the Eagles' dime alignment). If we give him a chance to come off the edge more, I think he could pick up even more sacks."

Keep in mind, what Reid says in early April doesn't always translate to reality in September. Last year at about this time, after letting two-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter walk, Reid said he was confident that Barry Gardner could replace him. As June turned to July, though, Reid wasn't nearly as confident about that and ended up signing Levon Kirkland after he was cut by the Seattle Seahawks. Kirkland started every game at middle linebacker.

One name to keep in mind is Jacksonville's injury-plagued end Tony Brackens, who is expected to be released before the start of training camp.

"We'll be fine," Reid said. "I'm ready to go with the people we have. If we stay reasonably healthy, we are very capable of making another (Super Bowl) run with this group."

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