Thursday night Eagles

Thursday evening update on the Philadelphia Eagles.

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 load.
   "Right now, the plan is to go with Brian," special teams coach John Harbaugh said. "This will let Lito concentrate on playing corner."
   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 Sheppard.
   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 do."
   --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 out.
   --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 ends.
   --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.

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