Inside Slant, Notes, Quotes, Report Cards

The Eagles' poor special teams play is becoming a source of concern to coach Andy Reid. He is getting little from his return game and his coverage units had their second straight bad game in Sunday's 33-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

Last week, the Eagles got burned for a 96-yard kickoff return for a touchdown by Kansas City's Dante Hall. They managed to overcome that and beat the Chiefs, 37-31. But they weren't so lucky against the Cowboys.

Both of the Cowboys return specialists -- kickoff returner Tyson Thompson and punt returner Patrick Crayton -- had big days that consistently gave Dallas excellent field position. Thompson opened the game with a 40-yard kickoff return and averaged 29.0 yards on three returns. Crayton, averaged 12 yards per return, including 16- and 25-yard returns that helped set up Cowboy scores.

Reid said he is not ready to panic.

"We are getting down in position (to make the play)," he said. "We just have to take care of business when we get down there and do a little better job of tackling when we get the opportunity. Those are things we can work on and get better at. We will go through and evaluate if we are putting the right personnel in the position to do that."

NOTES, QUOTES

--The Eagles have given up seven touchdown passes in the last three games, including three in Sunday's 33-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys. It's the first time in 35 regular-season games that the Eagles have given up three TD passes in a game. Last year, they allowed just 16 the entire season.

--Wide receiver Terrell Owens, who last week on his radio show said that if he had it to do over again, he wouldn't have signed with the Eagles last year, emerged from the locker room after Sunday's game wearing a Michael Irvin Cowboys jersey, which is sure to endear him even more to Eagles fans. Owens had five catches for 50 yards against the Cowboys. Asked whether he felt Owens wearing an Irvin/Cowboys jersey was inappropriate after a 23-point loss to the Cowboys, coach Andy Reid said, "I didn't think so. He's a big Michael Irvin fan. On the way home, I give these guys an opportunity to wear comfortable clothes. I have done that since I have been here and he's very close with Michael. I don't think it's that big of a deal."

PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES

--QB Mike McMahon, the club's No. 3 quarterback, will have exploratory arthroscopic surgery on his knee. With Donovan McNabb playing with a sports hernia, it isn't likely the Eagles will just go with two quarterbacks. They'll probably sign someone else before their next game in two weeks.

--LB Jason Short, a key member of the Eagles' special teams, suffered a high ankle sprain and likely will miss several weeks.

--K David Akers is making enough improvement from his torn hamstring that Andy Reid isn't ready to say he won't play in two weeks against San Diego. Todd France has been handling the kicking duties since Akers' injury, but Akers has remained on the club's 53-man roster.

--DT Darwin Walker, who has missed the last three games with a deep thigh contusion, is expected to be able to play in two weeks against San Diego. His absence was felt Sunday against the Cowboys. The Eagles got no inside push on the quarterback from their tackles.

--RB Brian Westbrook will not be returning punts anytime soon, according to head coach Andy Reid. The Eagles have gotten little out of their return game this season. Westbrook was one of the league's top punt returners two years ago before the club stopped having him handle that job.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

REPORT CARD VS. COWBOYS

PASS OFFENSE: F -- Texas Stadium seems to bring out the worst in Donovan McNabb. He was off-target all day and completed just 13-of-26 passes.

RUSH OFFENSE: F -- Andy Reid doesn't run the ball much when the game is close. In a game in which his team fell behind early, 17-0, his running backs carried the ball a grand total of seven times.

PASS DEFENSE: F -- The Eagles' star-studded secondary turned in its worst performance in a long time. Lito Sheppard was undressed by Cowboys wide receiver Terry Glenn several times, including on a 38-yard touchdown.

RUN DEFENSE: F -- The Cowboys successfully attacked the Eagles on the edges, getting 72 yards from Julius Jones and 75 in garbage time from Tyson Thompson. Eagles outside 'backers Dhani Jones and Keith Adams did not do a good job of containment.

SPECIAL TEAMS: F -- Nothing good happened Sunday. They got nothing from the return game and their coverage units were continually gashed by Dallas' return men. Kicker Todd France made his only field goal attempt, but it was a chip shot from 23 yards.

COACHING: F -- Andy Reid's team was flat from the opening kick. The Cowboys and quarterback Drew Bledsoe had an answer for everything defensive chief Jim Johnson threw at them.

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