The Eagles continue to get hammered hard by injuries. In a span of five days last week, they lost two important starters for the season.
First, N.D. Kalu, the club's starting right defensive end, tore his ACL in a training camp practice. Then, Correll Buckhalter, who was going to share the running back chores with Brian Westbrook, tore the patellar tendon in his right knee in the Eagles' 26-17 preseason win over the Baltimore Ravens.
With the start of the regular-season less than three weeks away, the Eagles' roster looks like a M.A.S.H. unit. Their starting free safety, Brian Dawkins, has missed most of camp with a knee bruise. Dhani Jones, the club's starting strong side linebacker, is out with a high ankle sprain that almost certainly will sideline him the rest of the preseason. His backup, Ike Reese, suffered an MCL sprain in his knee against the Ravens and is out indefinitely.
Starting left defensive tackle Corey Simon is out with a back injury that could be a season-long problem. Backup tackles Paul Grasmanis and Sam Rayburn both are hurt. Backup middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter suffered a rib cartilage fracture v. Baltimore. Starting weak side linebacker Nate Wayne has been sidelined the last two weeks with a hamstring injury. Rookie Matt Ware, who was a candidate for the nickel corner job going into camp, has been out for three weeks with a bruised leg.
"You don't want anybody to get injured," coach Andy Reid said. "When you do, and he's a guy that's playing for you, you don't welcome those. On the other hand, the next guy goes in and he's got to play and play well. That's the approach we take."
The Eagles should be able to absorb the loss of Kalu if they can get some productive play from Derrick Burgess, who has missed most of the last two seasons with foot injuries, and '03 first-round pick Jerome McDougle.
A bigger problem right now is replacing Buckhalter. Last year, Westbrook, Buckhalter and Duce Staley combined for nearly 2,500 rushing and receiving yards. But Staley signed with Pittsburgh in the off season and the 5-9, 200-pound Westbrook, while immensely talented, has yet to prove he can stand up to a regular NFL pounding.
The Eagles have three other running backs on their roster, but none have ever carried the ball in an NFL regular-season game. Second-year man Reno Mahe was primarily a special-teamer last year. Eric McCoo was NFL Europe's leading rusher this past spring. And Thomas Tapeh is a fifth-round rookie who is more suited to play fullback than running back.
Injury Report: FS Brian Dawkins, who has missed the first two preseason games with a knee contusion, may play this week against Pittsburgh. ... DT Corey Simon missed Friday's preseason game against Baltimore with a back injury. His status for this week is uncertain. ... RB Correll Buckhalter is out for the year with a torn patellar tendon. ... DE N.D. Kalu is out for the year with a torn ACL. ... SLB Dhani Jones continues to recover from a high ankle sprain that likely will keep him out the rest of the preseason. His backup, Ike Reese, suffered a sprained MCL knee sprain against Baltimore and is out indefinitely. ... G Adrien Clarke may miss the year after tearing his hamstring against the Ravens. ... MLB Jeremiah Trotter suffered a rib cartilage fracture against Baltimore. ... CB Matt Ware is out indefinitely with a bruised leg. ... LB Nate Wayne didn't play Friday with a hamstring injury. ... DT Sam Rayburn is out indefinitely with a high ankle sprain. ... DT Paul Grasmanis is out indefinitely with a sprained knee. ... QB Koy Detmer has missed the first two preseason games after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus.
Eagles' Roster Resembles M.A.S.H. Unit
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