Eagles / Redskins Preview

The Eagles and Redskins meet for the 143rd time Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field. The Birds look to turn around their season even though they face a tough second-half schedule and the 'skins look to build on a big win.

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
TV: FOX, Dick Stockton, Daryl Johnston, Tony Siragusa
SERIES: 143rd meeting. Redskins lead 75-62-5 (1-0 postseason). Washington won both meetings last year after Philadelphia had won the previous seven dating to 2001. Eagles coach Andy Reid is 9-5 against Washington. Redskins coach Joe Gibbs is 19-11 against Philadelphia.
2006 rankings: Redskins: offense 15th (8th rush, 21st pass); defense 30th (15th rush, 30th pass). Eagles: offense 1st (10th rush, 2nd pass); defense 14th (18th rush, 11th pass)

KEYS TO THE GAME: Eagles QB Donovan McNabb has a 41.3 first-half passer rating in the team's past three games, but he has also been the victim of a high number of dropped passes. Philadelphia has come under fire for being too pass-happy, but the temptation will be there again with McNabb working against a secondary that has allowed a league-high 35 completions of 20 yards or longer. However, with RB Brian Westbrook coming off a week to rest his sore knee, he could get a bump from the 19.5 touches he has averaged the past seven games. Washington desperately needs to attack the Eagles' undersized run defense, but the Redskins' success could hinge on WR Santana Moss' hamstring. If their best big-play threat is out, the Eagles can load up against RB Clinton Portis.

FAST FACTS: Redskins: QB Mark Brunell is 4-0 in his career against Philadelphia with 715 yards, three TDs and just one interception. ... Are the first team in NFL history to score 22 points in three consecutive games. Eagles: Coach Andy Reid is 7-0 in games immediately following a bye week. ...McNabb is 8-4 against Washington.

PERSONNEL NEWS
Redskins:

  • WR Santana Moss was back on the field for the second consecutive day after being out since straining his left hamstring in the Oct. 22 loss at Indianapolis. Moss officially remains questionable for Sunday's game at Philadelphia.
  • QB Mark Brunell returned after being held out of practice to rest his tender rib muscles on Wednesday. Brunell is expected to start against the Eagles.
  • TE Christian Fauria didn't practice for a second consecutive day because of the sprained left ankle he suffered last week against Dallas. Fauria is officially questionable for Sunday but doesn't seem likely to play.
  • WR Brandon Lloyd sat out Thursday after straining his groin Wednesday. Lloyd is probable for Sunday.
  • OT Jon Jansen returned to practice after sitting out Wednesday because of the ailing calf he injured November 2. Jansen is expected to start against the Eagles.
  • WR David Patten practiced again after missing the Dallas game with a strained left hamstring. Patten is expected to be available after missing the past four games with the hamstring or a pulled thigh muscle.
  • TE Chris Cooley, who badly bruised a shoulder against Dallas, practiced again and should start in Philadelphia.
  • Eagles:

  • DT Brodrick Bunkley, who has been playing between 10-12 snaps a game, is expected to have his role increased Sunday against Washington.
  • CB William James probably won't be activated for Sunday's game against the Redskins. If he does play, it would be in a very limited role.
  • CB Rod Hood, who missed four of the Eagles' first eight games with a heel injury, will return to his spot as the nickel corner Sunday.
  • DT Mike Patterson, who had surgery last week to repair his broken hand, has been practicing and will start Sunday against Washington.
  • RB Brian Westbrook, who has been nursing a sore knee most of the season, has practiced this week and is listed as probable for Sunday's game. He shouldn't be limited in any way.
  • INSIDE THE CAMPS

    Redskins:
    Pro Bowl receiver Santana Moss has been on the field past two days for the first time since he strained his left hamstring in the October 22 loss at Indianapolis. While Moss took limited work both days, he was more positive on Thursday that he'll play Sunday at Philadelphia after missing a game for the first time in his two seasons with the Redskins.

    "It was a productive day," Moss said. "As the week goes on, it's getting better. I ran a lot more. I did more in seven-on-seven and team drills. I didn't go downfield, but I ran some stop routes. Hopefully, I can be up to myself (on Sunday)."

    Redskins coach Joe Gibbs was encouraged by Moss being able to take some reps.

    "We'll just have to see how the week progresses, but I think it was a good step up," Gibbs said.

    While Moss remains questionable, Gibbs and quarterback Mark Brunell were pleased by the play of receivers Brandon Lloyd, Antwaan Randle El and James Thrash and tight end Chris Cooley in Moss' absence against Dallas. Lloyd caught two passes for 26 yards and drew a 48-yard pass interference penalty on Roy Williams that set up Cooley's tying touchdown in the fourth quarter. Randle El didn't catch a ball but drew two penalties on the opening drive. Thrash had a season-high three catches for 52 yards. Cooley had three catches for 66 yards and the touchdown.

    "Last week was a product of guys stepping up in Santana's absence," Brunell said. "Brandon, Antwaan, James and Chris all stepped up. We're a better team when all the guys are getting involved."

    Eagles:
    It doesn't seem likely that recently signed cornerback William James (formerly Will Peterson) will be activated for Sunday's game against Washington.

    Eagles defensive coordinator Jim Johnson didn't say James definitely wouldn't play, but it sounds as if the newcomer still doesn't have enough of a grasp of the team's coverage schemes to play.

    Johnson said that when James does get on the field, it will, at least initially, be in a limited role. He'll probably be the sixth defensive back in the 4-1-6 dime package.

    "It's a day-by-day process," Johnson said. "We'll see what we're going to do on Sunday. We haven't made a final decision (on not activating him). He's come a long way just in the last two days. He's working at it. Hopefully he'll have a chance to play. But we'll see."

    Johnson said Rod Hood, who missed four games with a heel injury, would return to his spot as the nickel corner behind starters Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown. Hood was activated for the game against Jacksonville two weeks ago, but he only played on special teams.

    The Eagles are hoping James can make a contribution to their pass defense as the season progresses. He hasn't played since the second week of the '05 season when he injured his back while playing with the Giants. He was released by the Giants last May and signed with the Eagles two weeks ago.

    "When he was in the league a couple of years ago, he was one of the better cover corners," Johnson said. "That's one of the reasons we picked him up. We know what he'd done in the past. He was an excellent cover corner. We'll see how fast he comes along with our scheme, but he has picked it up a little bit."


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