Defense Rising Above The Injuries

The Eagles secondary has been hampered by injuries and red flags went up when Jevon Kearse went down with a season-ending injury. But the Eagles defense has weathered the storm and is putting together an impressive season.

Five games into the season, the Eagles already have 23 quarterback sacks, which is only six fewer than they had all of last season.

Seven of those 23 came Sunday in the Eagles' important 38-24 win over the Dallas Cowboys. They made Drew Bledsoe's life miserable and harassed him into three interceptions and a fumble, as well as a 47.3 completion percentage.

This after Bledsoe basically dared the Eagles to blitz him earlier in the week.

"It fired us up," rookie defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley said. "I won't lie. He gave us a challenge and we took the challenge."

Defensive coordinator Jim Johnson, who had moved Darren Howard from right end to left end after Jevon Kearse went down with a season-ending knee injury in Week 1, moved him back to right end Sunday and Howard responded with his best game of the season, notching seven tackles and two sacks.

"My number one reason for coming here was because I believe we have a team and the kind of atmosphere in the organization that will get us deep into the playoffs and to the Super Bowl," said Howard, who signed with the Eagles in the offseason. "That's something I've been very, very far away from my whole career and that's the main reason why I came here."

Even without Kearse, the Eagles' defensive line has been relentless. The unit has 21 of the defense's 23 sacks, including 15.5 by Howard and the rest of the defensive ends. That's one more than the defensive ends had all of last season.

It all starts with the people up front," coach Andy Reid said. "And both our offensive and defensive lines have been playing very well."

Take two aspirin and call me in the morning...

  • Running back Brian Westbrook came out of the Dallas game with his injured knee in pretty good shape. There wasn't much swelling and he is hopeful he'll be able to play Sunday against New Orleans. Westbrook has experienced swelling in the knee most of the season. He sat out last week's game against Green Bay, but played against Dallas. He rushed for 33 yards on 11 carries and caught 5 passes for 53 yards. "We'll see how it goes," coach Andy Reid said. "I really think it will be day to day and week to week. There's a chance (the swelling) stops, and there's a chance it continues on. There's no set answers."
  • LG Todd Herremans suffered a Grade-1 MCL sprain in Sunday's win over Dallas, but returned to the game and finished. He is expected to play Sunday against New Orleans.
  • WR Donte Stallworth, who has missed two of the last three games with a hamstring strain, is "making progress," coach Andy Reid said Monday. It's uncertain whether he'll play Sunday against his former team, the New Orleans Saints.
  • CB Rod Hood missed his second straight game Sunday with a heel strain. Chances are he'll also miss this week's game against New Orleans. Joselio Hanson replaced him as the third corner Sunday.
  • FS Brian Dawkins suffered a quadriceps contusion against Dallas on Sunday, but finished the game. He might be limited in practice this week, but likely will play against New Orleans.
  • In other news...

  • Donovan McNabb has just one interception this season. That came on his fifth throw of the Eagles' first game. Since then, he's thrown 171 passes without a pick. He has lowered his career interception percentage to 2.15, which is the second best in NFL history. Only Neil O'Donnell - at 2.11 - is better.

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