Eagles / Redskins Pre-Game Update

The New Year starts with an old rivalry for the Philadelphia Eagles. Playing the role of spoiler is basically all the Eagles have to look forward to as they finish a disappointing season filled with injuries and controversy.

GAME SNAPSHOT

KICKOFF: Sunday, 4:15 ET , SURFACE: Grass

TV: FOX, Troy Aikman, Joe Buck, Pam Oliver

SERIES: 142nd meeting. The Redskins lead the series 74-62-5. The Eagles had beaten the 'Skins seven consecutive times dating back to the '01 season before losing in Washington in early November, 17-10.

2005 RANKINGS: Redskins: offense 12th (5th rush, 20th pass); defense 7th (11th rush, 9th pass). Eagles: offense 19th (28th rush, 8th pass); defense 27th (20th rush, 21st pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: A win secures a Wild Card spot for the Redskins. The main question is whether QB Mark Brunell, who has a sprained right knee, or backup Patrick Ramsey will be the man to lead the charge. Either way, RB Clinton Portis has been the key to Washington's resurgence. His ability to consistently churn out yards on the ground has re-opened the deep passing game to WR Santana Moss., who likely will work primarily against Eagles CB Rod Hood.

Offensively, Philadelphia is hamstrung by a depleted offensive line that is struggling in pass and run blocking. It's critical for RB Ryan Moats and a slew of others to have success on the ground because QB Mike McMahon has proven he will make poor decisions under pressure. And with the playoffs on the line, Redskins defensive coordinator Gregg Williams - one of the best in the business - will throw the kitchen sink at the Eagles' backup quarterback.

FAST FACTS

Redskins: Seek their first sweep of the season series since 1988... Portis has set a single-season franchise record with eight 100-yard rushing games.

Eagles: Have won the past three meetings at home... Moats has averaged 6.4 yards per carry of the past three games.

PERSONNEL NEWS

Redskins:

  • CB Shawn Springs didn't practice again Thursday because of the strained back and groin with which he played the past two weeks. Springs is expected to start.
  • CB Carlos Rogers didn't practice Thursday because of his injured left biceps, which kept him out the past two weeks. Rogers is unlikely to return on Sunday.
  • DE Renaldo Wynn didn't practice again Thursday because of a sore arch but is expected to start against the Eagles.
  • T Chris Samuels returned to practice Thursday after resting his sprained right knee and ankle on Wednesday. He'll start against the Eagles.
  • S Matt Bowen, who has missed the past two games with a badly bruised knee and thigh, practiced again and is expected to play against Philadelphia.
  • T Jon Jansen returned on Thursday from resting his sprained right thumb on Wednesday but, as always, will start against the Eagles.
Eagles:
  • WR Darnerian McCants was downgraded to doubtful Thursday with a shoulder sprain. McCants, who had been listed as questionable, didn't practice for the second straight day. He's the team's number four receiver.
  • DE Jevon Kearse isn't expected to play Sunday against Washington. He didn't practice again Thursday and is listed as questionable with a knee sprain.
  • RB/PR Reno Mahe still is listed as questionable with a calf injury, but he practiced Thursday and likely will play Sunday.
  • RT Jon Runyan sat out practice again Thursday and continues to be listed as questionable for Sunday's game with a knee and quadriceps contusion. Look for Runyan to make his 143rd consecutive start.
  • CB Sheldon Brown practiced Thursday and probably will play Sunday, despite a sprained knee.
INSIDE THE CAMPS

Redskins:

With his team on the brink of the playoffs, Redskins coach Joe Gibbs is angry about a story in The Washington Times in which linebacker LaVar Arrington said he was unfairly about to become an ex-Redskin.

"It's not a given that I'll continue playing if the Redskins get rid of me," Arrington told The Times. "I don't really want to play for anyone else. I don't feel bad about it. I've had my time. I'm capable of doing other things besides football."

Arrington also said that an 18-month dispute over his contract damaged his relationship with the team's management and kept him off the field.

"Obviously, using me sparingly or not at all is a very clear message," Arrington said. "I'm not wanted here. I believe in my heart that the Redskins faithful love me as Ravens fans love Ray Lewis or Packers fans love Brett Favre. Some individuals hate it that there are more of my jerseys in the stands than anyone else's."

Arrington missed most of last season because of a knee injury and did not play much early this season. Arrington, whose 2006 salary-cap number is $12 million and is due a $6.5 million roster bonus on July 15, also said he noticed a difference in the way he was treated by the team.

"It's crazy and unfair that something I had very little to do with derailed my relationship with management," Arrington said. "You see they're not marketing you anymore. You see people interacting with other people the way they used to interact with you. I watched how things were with Stephen Davis. I watched how things were with Champ (Bailey). I saw the same things happening to me. I restructured my contract to help the Redskins. Do you think I'm going to do that now? Of course not."

Gibbs reacted harshly to the perceived distraction.

"Right now, for anybody in this organization - I would hope in the entire town - to be focused on anything other than Philly would be ridiculous," Gibbs said. "We're getting ready to play the most important game that a lot of our players will play. If we lose the game, we're not going anywhere. So my mind-set is on one thing; Philadelphia."

Arrington later said the same was true of him.

"I'm worried about Philadelphia, and that's the bottom line," Arrington said. "Those are my quotes, but it's the tone of the story that comes from the writer himself. I think it's horrible timing for a writer to write something like that, but it happens. It was taken out of context. I said I want to be a Redskin forever. I'd rather retire than play for another franchise. This is where I want to be. Whether I will or not, I don't know. I don't want this getting misconstrued or dragged out or turned into something crazy. This isn't me trying to be a prima donna. I've handled this situation during the whole season with dignity and respect and, in my opinion, class."

Eagles:

Rookie Reggie Brown has been everything the Eagles had hoped this season. The second-round draft choice out of Georgia has 36 catches, including 16 in the past four games, and is averaging 13.7 yards per catch.

Coach Andy Reid has called Brown the most talented receiver he's coached aside from Terrell Owens. While the Eagles will be getting back Todd Pinkston (ruptured Achilles tendon) next season and are expected to look for receiving help in free agency, offensive coordinator Brad Childress said he expects Brown to compete for the number one wide receiver job next season.

"I think so," he said. "That's certainly how we drafted him. He's playing at a pretty high level right now, and I just think it will be that much better - that jump from year one, and all the things that go with year one, to year two."

Brown had six catches for 69 yards in last week's 27-21 loss to Arizona. He hopes to have the same kind of success Sunday against Washington that he had in the first meeting with the Redskins. In that early November game, he caught five passes for 94 yards, including a 56-yard touchdown catch and run.

"He's done a good job since being given the opportunity to replace Terrell," Childress said. "He's taken the bit very well."


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