Eagles Expect Help For Patriots Game

Philadelphia expects to see some faces that haven't been around for the preseason. Who is the latest, and what does it mean? An inside look at the Eagles...

Pro Bowl right guard Shawn Andrews, who missed all of training camp and both of the Eagles' first two preseason games while dealing with clinical depression, took his first practice reps on Saturday and probably will play Friday night against the New England Patriots.

Coach Andy Reid is expected to play his starters about three quarters against the Patriots. It's uncertain whether Andrews will play that much. Andrews reported to camp on Aug. 10, but wasn't given the green light to practice until the Eagles were sure he had his depression under control.

Physically, he shouldn't have too much trouble catching up. Andrews, who played last year at 330 pounds, weighs 331 and is in pretty good shape.

"You could tell that he's been working and looks strong," coach Andy Reid said. "He's got a good support staff in place right now to help him deal with his problem, and I think he's in a good place (mentally). We'll see how it works out.

"Right now, he is very upbeat and positive. He feels better, looks better. In just the couple of days that he's been here, we've seen a little bit of a sense of relief when you're talking to him."

Andrews, 25, said he felt "lost" and "alone" and was "on the edge" before finally seeking help for his depression a few weeks ago. Asked whether he had considered suicide, Andrews said: "I won't say that I contemplated suicide, but I had some very in my mind unrealistic thoughts about a lot of things. I was really lost and just really felt there was no outlet. I just felt alone."

Andrews said his teammates have welcomed him back and offered him their support in helping him deal with his depression.

"I have the support of my teammates," he said. "It feels good to get back on the field and be around the guys. I'm very confident (of their support). If there is anyone who doubts me, no one shows it. There's been nothing but support here. I feel back at home."

Reid said the organization wanted to make sure there was a good support system in place for Andrews before he returned to the practice field.

"Once we felt he was in a good place, we talked about the football part of it," said Reid. "That's kind of what's taken time. The football part is secondary to the person. We want to make sure the person is all right."

In Andrews' absence, third-year man Max Jean-Gilles has started at right guard. He's played pretty well, though he had three penalties in last week's preseason game against Carolina, including a holding call in the red zone that killed a potential scoring drive.

The Eagles feel fairly confident that Andrews can get enough reps in the final three weeks of practice and the final two preseason games to play himself back into shape for the Sept. 7 season-opener against the St. Louis Rams.

NOTES:
--Rookie wide receiver DeSean Jackson continued his impressive preseason play. He had seven catches for 71 yards in the Eagles' 24-13 win over Carolina, and also had a 27-yard punt return. A week earlier, he had five receptions for 51 yards against Pittsburgh.

With both Reggie Brown and Jason Avant sidelined with injuries, Jackson has been getting a lot of work with the first-team offense.
"I feel pretty comfortable with everything," said Jackson, a second-round pick out of Cal where he played in a pro-style offense. "Coach Marty (Mornhinweg, the Eagles' offensive coordinator) has a lot of things in the offense for me. I'm just trying to do my best and get open as much as possible."

--Defensive end Victor Abiamiri, who is recovering from a broken wrist, expects to play again soon.
When Abiamiri had surgery on the wrist two weeks ago, coach Andy Reid said a worst-case scenario would have the second-year lineman sidelined for four months. But the 6-4, 287-pounder thinks he'll be back much sooner than that.

"I'm trying to prepare myself by going to all the meetings and staying mentally sharp," Abiamiri said. "There's are looking good. I feel that things have gotten progressively better since the first day it happened. A lot of things, as far as doing every-day tasks like going in and lifting, I can definitely tell how my body functions and how much better I am getting."

Before the injury, Abiamiri was projected to be the team's starting left end. Defensive coordinator Jim Johnson also planned to move him inside as a pass-rusher in the team's nickel package.

--Tony Hunt, who is battling Ryan Moats for the fourth and final running back spot on the Eagles' season-opening roster, helped his cause Thursday with a 51-yard touchdown run in the Eagles' 24-13 preseason win over Carolina. He also made a nice one-handed shoestring catch of a pass from backup quarterback Kevin Kolb, and made a solo tackle on a kickoff.

Hunt, a third-round pick in the '07 draft, didn't play much as a rookie, mainly because he couldn't pick up the blitz and couldn't contribute on special teams.

"When I got here, it was, `You better be able to contribute on special teams. We have a star running back here (Brian Westbrook),'" Hunt said. "I had never played on special teams in four years of college (at Penn State). But I knew this preseason I would have an opportunity to show the coaches I can contribute on special teams and I contribute running the football. I know the assignments. I know how to pick up the blitz."

--G Shawn Andrews practiced for the first time Saturday and should get some extensive playing time in Friday's preseason game against New England.

--WR Reggie Brown, who was out for more than a week with Achilles tendinitis, now is sidelined with a hamstring injury. It's uncertain whether he'll play this week against the Patriots.

--DE Victor Abiamiri, who is recovering from a broken wrist, doesn't think it will be necessary for the team to put him on injured reserve. He said the wrist is healing nicely and he thinks he'll be back long before the four-month worst-case scenario coach Andy Reid initially painted.

--RB Lorenzo Booker has yet to be paired in the same backfield with Brian Westbrook in the first two preseason games. But the Eagles have used a package with both of them in it quite often in practice.

--S Quintin Demps will get more work returning kickoffs after Lorenzo Booker dropped two kickoff returns and couldn't find the handle on another one last week against Carolina. Demps has outstanding straight-line speed that would seem to make him an ideal kickoff return candidate.


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