Game Preview: Eagles at Chiefs

This is a preview article for the game between the Eagles and Chiefs on October 2.

GAME SNAPSHOT

KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 ET
GAMEDATE: 10/02/05
SURFACE: Grass
TV: FOX, Joe Buck, Troy Aikman, Pam Oliver

SERIES: 5th meeting. Series is tied 2-2. The last meeting between the two clubs was in November of '01 at Arrowhead Stadium. The Eagles won easily, 23-10.

*2005 RANKINGS: Eagles: offense 1st (22nd rush, 1st pass); defense 5th (9th rush, 8th pass). Chiefs: offense 9th (8th rush, 17th pass); defense 27th (23rd rush, 26th pass)

PREDICTION: Chiefs 24-23

KEYS TO THE GAME: The Eagles' biggest concern is the healthy of QB Donovan McNabb, who struggled with his accuracy at times last Sunday while he plays through a variety of injuries. Look for Philadelphia to move around WR Terrell Owens, who will have a huge advantage when covered by anyone other than CB Patrick Surtain. The Chiefs like rookie OLB Derrick Johnson's speed, and he could play a pivotal role in how effective RB Brian Westbrook is in the passing game. Kansas City had a terrible time with its blocking schemes on Monday night, and LT Willie Roaf could miss his third consecutive game. But the Chiefs must be able to establish the running game with RBs Priest Holmes and Larry Johnson. If not, Kansas City won't be able to set up the play-action pass and the Eagles will pressure QB Trent Green.

FAST FACTS: Eagles: McNabb has 32 touchdown passes in his past 13 games. ... Coach Andy Reid has an NFL-best 32-17 (.653) road record among active coaches. Chiefs: Are 17-3 at home against NFC opponents since 1995. One of those losses was a 23-10 setback to the Eagles in 2001. ... Are 13-2 in games following a game at Denver since 1990.

PERSONNEL NEWS:

Eagles:

--PK Todd France will be added to the Eagles' roster in the next day or two and will replace injured David Akers Sunday against the Chiefs.

--QB Donovan McNabb practiced for the second day in a row Thursday and didn't seem to be bothered much by his sports hernia. It likely will restrict his mobility against the Chiefs, though.

--DE Jevon Kearse doesn't have a sack yet this season, but is going up against the Chiefs' inexperienced right tackle. Kevin Sampson, Sunday.

--DT Mike Patterson will make his second straight start Sunday in place of injured Darwin Walker. Patterson, the club's first-round draft pick, has played well as part of the team's four-man tackle rotation.

--DT Paul Grasmanis will be activated for the second straight week Sunday against Kansas City. Grasmanis is the club's fifth DT on a team that uses a four-man tackle rotation. But with starting right tackle Darwin Walker injured, Grasmanis will play.

Chiefs:

--QB Trent Green said he's having no problems taking snaps with a bruised left hand he injured early in last week's 30-10 loss to Denver. He's practicing with a rap on the hand, but says he will play without it against the Eagles on Sunday.

--T Kevin Sampson, a second-year player, will either start or get more snaps at the right tackle position he played in training camp before a dislocated toe knocked him out of action.

--TE Jason Dunn, who has been playing with a sore knee, missed a second day of practice Thursday but should be ready to play against Philadelphia, coach Dick Vermeil said Thursday.

--DE Carlos Hall, a pass-rushing specialist, worked out Thurday and should be able to play against Philadelphia after being inactive with a back injury for the Monday night loss to Denver.

--LB Keyaron Fox, a player whose improved play gave coordinator Gunther Cunningham more chances to play the 3-4 defense as an occasional new look, will not require surgery on his injured knee, but likely will need at least another six weeks or more to recover.

INSIDE THE CAMPS:

Eagles:

Even though kicker David Akers has been declared out for Sunday's game against Kansas City with a torn hamstring, the Eagles still haven't moved his replacement, Todd France, from the practice squad to the 53-man roster.

That's because, when they do it, they're going to have release a player - probably either safety Jeremy Thornburg or tackle Calvin Armstrong - and they'd prefer to wait until closer to game time to reduce the chance of someone else claiming him before they put him on the practice squad.

Arrowhead Stadium is a tough place to make your NFL debut, but special teams coordinator John Harbaugh thinks France will be fine.

"He's a pretty even guy," Harbaugh said. "He's a pretty quiet guy. He's a very even-keeled type guy. He's kicked there (at Arrowhead) before. I think he made a kick or two there in the preseason a few years back. So, I guess the answer is that we'll see.

"He's done a good job at practice. He made nine out of 10 field goals yesterday, so that was a positive."

France kicked in NFL Europe last spring. He doesn't have Akers' leg strength, but Harbaugh isn't sure of the maximum distance he'd feel comfortable sending France out to try Sunday.

"It's going to depend on the conditions and the wind and all that," he said. "He's strong enough to kick a long field at the end of a game. But how far, to set in yardage, would be impossible to tell."

Chiefs:

A frustrated Willie Roaf would rather be doing practicing than doing the pool work and treadmill work and weight room regimen he's undergoing in an attempt to recover from a hamstring injury that has sidelined him for all but the first two series of the Chiefs' season.

Unfortunately, every time Roaf thinks he's ready to test his sore leg, he fails the test.

"I still can't just take off and run; I'm still dragging that leg," said the 320-pound 10-time Pro Bowl tackle. "We're not talking about hitting 280-pound linemen. We're just talking about trying to get out of a stance and take off running. I can't get my 300 pounds going.

"I can do stuff in the pool," he added. "They can put the treadmill on 6.0 (a mile in 10 minutes) and I'm fine. But when I get out on the field and try to run a sweep, I feel the scar tissue breaking up again and I've got to back off. I know it's not ready."

The Chiefs, in turn, don't appear ready for his absence.

They knew the day was coming soon when the 35-year-old Roaf wouldn't be clearing the road on runs to the left side, or capably protecting quarterback Trent Green's blind left side. They drafted Jordan Black in 2003 with the hope that the former Notre Dame player might someday be a starting left tackle.

Black might, in fact, handle the position capably in time. But that time hasn't arrived yet, even as Black awaits his third start this year Sunday against Philadelphia.

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