As if the Eagles offense isn't struggling enough, it now has to deal with the loss of center Hank Fraley.
Fraley, who has been the starting center for the last five seasons, suffered a torn rotator cuff in Sunday night's 17-10 loss to the Washington Redskins. He had surgery earlier this week and will be out for the remainder of the season.
Eagles coach Andy Reid is considering two replacement options. One is second-year man Trey Darilek. The other is Jamaal Jackson, who was signed earlier this week from the practice squad. Darilek's natural position is guard, while the 6-4, 330-pound Jackson is a center.
"We've felt good about Jamaal since he's been here," Reid said. "He's been banged up a little bit with injuries. But he's healthy now and we feel comfortable he can go in there and play. He's a smart kid. He's big and strong. He would have been our second center this year had he not been hurt. We feel good about him."
There actually isn't a big talent dropoff between the overachieving Fraley and Darilek and Jackson. But Fraley made all of the line calls, which is going to put the Eagles' line at a disadvantage against the Cowboys' blitzing 3-4 defense Monday night.
--C Jamaal Jackson, who was signed off the practice squad earlier this week, could be the team's starting center Monday night against Dallas.
-- DE N.D. Kalu, who injured his shoulder last week, was downgraded to doubtful Thursday. He isn't expected to play Monday night against Dallas.
--DE Trent Cole likely will get his first start Monday night. The fifth-round rookie will replace injured N.D. Kalu at right end if Kalu can't play. Cole had a sack and a forced fumble last week.
--TE L.J. Smith didn't practice Thursday and remains listed as questionable with a concussion. But coach Andy Reid is optimistic that he'll play against Dallas.
--CB Rod Hood, the club's nickel corner, has some inflammation in his left heel that limited what he could do in practice Thursday. But he is listed as probable for Monday night's game.
One of the biggest focuses of the second half of the season for the Cowboys is finding a way to continue to protect quarterback Drew Bledsoe.
As coach Bill Parcells predicted before the season, when Bledsoe is protected, he will make plays.
He wasn't protected in Buffalo the last three years, getting sacked 140 times. It showed in his play and was the main reason many critics thought he was done.
The Cowboys have been giving Bledsoe time to throw and he has thrived. He is on pace to set a team record for passing yards in a season. He has a career high 97.4 passer rating.
He has simply been the team's most valuable player in the first half of the season.
Protecting Bledsoe will remain a challenge because of the inexperience the team has at tackle.
But while Pettiti remains a work in progress, the Cowboys like what they have seen for far from Tucker, who has been a more than adequate replacement for Adams so far.
The Cowboys say Tucker's play has been one of the biggest surprises of the first half.
Considering his performance as a failed starter at right tackle last season and his nearly being cut in training camp because of early struggles, Tucker's play is more shock than surprise.
"I spent a lot of time with Torrin and some of it wasn't pleasant," Parcells said. "Some of it has been threatening over the years. I call him 'El Gato' because he has nine lives."
Parcells never gave up on Tucker, partly because of a conversation he had with the player's mother during the summer.
Parcells said she was very supportive of what "I was trying to do with her son, and I kind of looked at him in a different light from that point on."
Now Tucker is headed in the right direction.
"I'm not relaxing around him, but I think he's getting ready to cross the line," Parcells said. "And when I see that, then I turn from being a guy that's always on your case to one that's trying to encourage him to go further, because he's now making progress. I think he has a chance to be OK."
--RB Julius Jones practiced well on Thursday, his first day in pads after missing the past three games with a sprained ankle. Jones ran tentatively in practice last Friday and Saturday. Coach Bill Parcells said he is running with more confidence now but still needs to test the ankle with some contact work before Monday's game against the Eagles.
--CB Anthony Henry is expected to practice Friday after missing Thursday to continue rehabilitating his pulled groin. Henry remains questionable for the Eagles game on Monday. But the Cowboys say he is showing progress and remain optimistic.
--RB Marion Barber has the best hands among the running backs and will likely be the third-down back Monday against the Eagles as well as splitting time in the backfield with starter Julius Jones.--DE Greg Ellis has been a big contributor on the field and in the locker room. He has provided much needed leadership and advice to the rookies. He leads the team in sacks with five even though is playing fewer snaps than previous years.
Last year, Kevin Lewis was the Giants' starting middle linebacker, and he started all 16 games. This year, he was released.
Last summer, the first training camp in the reign of coach Tom Coughlin, Lewis was pitted in competition with young Nick Greisen for the middle linebacker job and he won.
Greisen was relegated to the bench, even after each man received equal time in the final preseason game - and Greisen had 12 tackles to Lewis' two.
The choice, made by Coughlin and defensive coordinator Tim Lewis, remained a mystery all season. But now Lewis (the linebacker) is gone, and has not been signed by any other team. Greisen was again denied a starting job at the start of the 2005 season.
The three linebackers who opened the season were Antonio Pierce in the middle, Carlos Emmons on the weak side and Reggie Torbor on the strong side. That involved a switch of positions for Emmons, always a strongside operator.
But then things happened. Torbor didn't play well, Emmons was moved over to strong side and suddenly Greisen, a four-year veteran, had a job at weakside linebacker. Then Emmons was hurt, Torbor came back to play on the strong side and Greisen stayed on the weak side.
Lucky thing, too. He has been playing phenomenally well, with 34 tackles, three forced fumbles, two fumble recoveries, two passes defensed - and he has even added six special teams tackles.
But since his reprieve, Torbor has played well, too. And when Emmons returns (his partially torn right pectoral muscle should heal soon), he's going to get his job back, as befits a quality performer of 10 years.
So what happens to Greisen?
"Nick is playing exceptionally well," said Coughlin, who didn't add that the 6-1, 245-pound Wisconsin product has also filled in at middle and strongside linebacker. "I don't see as to how you would want to take him out of the lineup now."Nor, perhaps, was there any solid reason to deny him the job a year ago.
--SS Shaun Williams (re-injured hamstring) is likely not to play Sunday against the Minnesota Vikings. He has played in all eight games this season, starting none of them. Williams, the No. 1 draft pick in 1998, is the team co-leader with two interceptions. He also has 16 tackles and two passes defensed.
--RCB Will Peterson (back, likely stress fracture of the transverse process), started only the second and third games of the season and has been inactive for the other six. There is no indication that he will play any time soon, and in fact reports hold that within the next two weeks, pending a final medical exam, he could be placed on season-ending injured reserve.
--RT Kareem McKenzie, signed as a free agent from the New York Jets last spring and the team's highest-paid offensive lineman, has been a bulwark in run blocking but not quite as effective against the pass rush. "You need to know the guys you're playing against," he says, "and I don't know much about the ends in this conference. Even if we played them when I was with the Jets, it was only once every two or three years."
--QB Eli Manning, when asked if he had heard the early predictions that Super Bowl XL might be a Manning Bowl, visibly grimaced. "No, we don't talk about that kind of stuff," he said. "We only think about the next game. I don't get to see my brother (Peyton, the Indianapolis QB) play on television much, I am not going to deal with any of those kinds of speculations."
--LG David Diehl has been available for 40 Giants games since joining the team as a fifth-round pick in the 2003 draft, and he has started all 40 - the first 16 as the RT, the next 16 at RG and the past at LG. "I don't care where I play," he said, "as long as its on the offensive line and as long as I'm starting."