Eagles Defense Is A Hurting Bunch

The Eagles defense has suffered some key injuries that could hurt Christmas night against Dallas. While none of the injuries are severe, they may be bad enough to keep a couple of key players out of the lineup.

The Eagles defense could be at a big disadvantage Monday when they take on the Dallas Cowboys in an important NFC East battle.

Three significant role players on the defense - nickel corner William James, nickel linebacker Shawn Barber and backup safety Mike Lewis - could be missing because of injuries.

James injured his calf in pre-game warm-ups before the Eagles' 36-22 win over the New York Giants Sunday and probably won't be able to play against the Cowboys. Lewis, who has been effective as a quasi-linebacker in the Eagles' nickel and dime packages since losing his starting strong safety job earlier this season, suffered an MCL sprain of his knee against the Giants and is very questionable for this week.

Barber missed the Giants game with a neck stinger after missing two earlier games with a knee injury. He is hopeful that he'll be able to play this week, but his availability could be a game-time decision.

James and Barber are important contributors to the Eagles' pass defense. At 6-0, James is the Eagles' tallest corner and gives them someone they can match up against taller wideouts, such as the Cowboys' 6-3 Terrell Owens.

Barber is the team's best cover linebacker. He was replaced in the nickel last week by rookie Omar Gaither. But if both Lewis and Barber can't play, defensive coordinator Jim Johnson may have to use middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter on passing downs, which is something he'd prefer not to do.

As for Trotter, he'll do whatever it takes and adjust to whoever is around him. "When you can get them [young players] in early, and you start at minicamp working together, normally if they are in by minicamp and you spend that whole time all the way through camp together, you normally get a pretty good feel. When you change in the middle of the season it takes a while for you to get a feel for that guy. But with Omar coming in, he adjusted well, I adjusted to him well, and it has been good," said Trotter.

Trotter and the rest of the Eagles aren't making any excuses and won't use injuries as an excuse. They're also not thinking about the fact that they can still make the playoffs even if they lose. Trotter doesn't see losing as an option. "Right now we have one goal and that is to go down and win."

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