The Eagles will go with a new punt returner this week against the New England Patriots.
Lito Sheppard is out and Brian Westbrook is in.
Sheppard returned punts last week in the Eagles' 17-0 Monday night loss to the
Tampa Bay Bucs. He averaged just 3.8 yards per return and made some poor
decisions fielding punts.
But that's not necessarily why he's
being replaced. The 5-10 cornerback will be getting his first NFL start Sunday
in place of injured Bobby Taylor, and the coaching staff wants to lighten his
"Right now, the plan is to go with Brian," special teams
coach John Harbaugh said. "This will let Lito concentrate on playing
Westbrook was initially expected to be the club's
primary punt and kickoff return man. But when he missed a sizeable chunk of the
preseason with a knee injury, the Eagles gave the punt return job to
Westbrook returned kickoffs last week, and opened the
game with a 47-yard return. He'll handle both return jobs this week, as well as
rotate with Duce Staley and Correll Buckhalter at running back.
"Brian has been catching punts again for the last two weeks," Harbaugh said. "He
went through three weeks in training camp when he didn't catch any. Now he's
back and looks comfortable doing it. I'm excited to see how well he'll
--CB Bobby Taylor will miss Sunday's game with a strained
foot, but with a bye week next week, they hope to get him back for their third
game on Sept. 27 against Buffalo.
--DE Brandon Whiting, who
injured his hamstring last week, won't play Sunday against the Patriots and
there is serious doubt that he'll even be ready for the Eagles' next game on
Sept. 27 against Buffalo.
--DT Darwin Walker will move from
right tackle to left end for as long as injured Brandon Whiting is
--DE Marco Coleman, who was signed two days before the
season-opener after Derrick Burgess went down with a season-ending Achilles
injury, will be the swing man at both end positions Sunday, backing up Darwin
Walker on the left side and N.D. Kalu on the right. Counting Walker, who is
actually the club's starting right tackle, the Eagles only have three healthy
--DT Hollis Thomas is a starter again. Thomas, who missed
all of last season with a broken foot and lost his starting job to Darwin
Walker, will start at right tackle Sunday because Walker is sliding over to left
end to replace injured Brandon Whiting.
--S Clinton Hart never
played in an NFL game before last week, but the former Arena League player will
be the Eagles' starting free safety Sunday, replacing Brian Dawkins, who will be
out anywhere from two to six weeks.
--RB Brian Westbrook will
return both kickoffs and punts this week against the Patriots. Westbrook just
handled the kickoff return chores last week. But the Eagles want Lito Sheppard,
who returned punts last week, to concentrate on cornerback, where he'll replace
injured Bobby Taylor.
--CB Lito Sheppard will get his first NFL
start Sunday against the Patriots. He'll replace injured right corner Bobby
Taylor. Sheppard filled in for Taylor in the second half last week against the
Bucs and had a tough time. He gave up a touchdown pass to Joe Jurevicius and was
picked on a lot by quarterback Brad Johnson.
Thursday night Eagles
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