Notebook: Eagles Win the WR Battles

The Eagles beat out the Vikings for the services of 2007 free agent Kevin Curtis, but the Eagles also appear to have gotten the best of a 2006 trade between the two teams that sent Hank Baskett to the Eagles before he ever got to training camp with the Vikings. See what Baskett's former college teammate, Ryan Cook, had to say about his friend with the Eagles, get injury updates and more.

The Philadelphia Eagles won the bidding last March for wide receiver Kevin Curtis – actually, the Minnesota Vikings offered more but were rebuffed – and the Eagles also seem to have won a trade last year that sent wide receiver Hank Baskett to Philadelphia and wide receiver Billy McMullen to Minnesota.

Curtis is one of the top receivers in the league this year after moving out from the shadows of Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce in St. Louis into the No. 1 receiver role in Philadelphia. He has 29 receptions for 506 yards and four touchdowns.

Meanwhile, in 2006 trading of lower-level wide receivers, the Eagles got the better deal there, too. McMullen is out of the league now while Baskett remains productive with the Eagles.

Baskett came to the Vikings as an undrafted free agent following a career at the University of New Mexico. However, after their minicamp, the Vikings decided to trade the angular receiver to the Philadelphia Eagles for a product that coach Brad Childress was more familiar with – McMullen.

"He counts his blessings every day, especially being an undrafted guy," former college teammate Ryan Cook said of Baskett. "I know he was counting his blessings when he was here. He's just happy to be in the situation he's in, I'm sure."

That situation allowed Baskett to catch 22 passes for 464 yards and two touchdowns in his rookie season with the Eagles after no team thought he was worth spending a draft pick on.

"He always had a strong work ethic. Even in college, he made a lot of plays and it carried over into now. He puts a lot of work into it and works at his craft and I think it shows and pays off for him," Cook said. "He's always had great hands and he catches the ball on a consistent basis. That's always been a big part of it. He works hard at running his routes and doing other stuff like that. He's always done fairly well at (catching the ball). I think that's helped him transfer over and helped him be successful."

With Curtis in the fold, Baskett hasn't been quite as productive this year. Through six games, he has five catches for 55 yards and no touchdowns.

But the Eagles are finding other ways to get the 6-foot-4, 220-pounder involved. He has been seeing action in a tight end-type role of late.

"We have done that a little bit," said Philadelphia offensive coordinator Marty Morhinweg, who replaced Childress. "He's a talented young man. He certainly can run and catch for a big man. He's physical, so he can do some of the things in and around that box, and he can do some of those things very well."

Cook said he talks with Baskett "all the time," with a conversation last week the most recent. But there won't be any side wagers or trash talking from the reserved Cook.

"I really don't talk, even on the field I don't talk that much anyway. We're such good friends, either way it doesn't bother us one way or another," Cook said. "When we talk, we don't really talk about football per se. We just talk about other stuff that goes on in life. We keep it on a friendly level as far as football talk."

Cook said it was nice having Baskett with the Vikings when they both arrived for workouts shortly after the 2006 draft, but those days ended a few weeks later when the Vikings shipped Baskett to Philadelphia for McMullen.

"I was excited when he was here, obviously us being from the same college," Cook said. "Being here right out of college for our first year, I was excited for that opportunity. But it's the NFL and they've got to do what's best for the team and they felt that was the best move for them at the time. It worked out pretty good for him."

THAT INJURY THING

Quarterback Tarvaris Jackson participated in the early portions of practice Thursday, as he and Kelly Holcomb threw to the wide receivers while Brooks Bollinger worked with the running backs in the portion of practice open to the media. Jackson was limited in practice on Wednesday and Thursday after fracturing his right (throwing) index finger on Sunday. The Vikings haven't named a starter yet.

Offensive coordinator Darrel Bevell, a former quarterback at Wisconsin, said he played with a broken index finger on his throwing hand in college, "but it was a little bit different type of break than the one he has so I was able to play with some tape on it. But it can definitely cause you issues. Especially (since) the index finger is the last one that leaves the ball, where you get the most pressure pushing and the snap off of that one. So there is going to be definite discomfort there, but we just have to see how much the accuracy and the command of the football is affected … Every time he releases the ball there is going to be pain there."

Safety Dwight Smith (hamstring) did not practice, while linebacker Vinny Ciurciu (ankle), fullback Naufahu Tahi (knee), DE Erasmus James (shoulder), TE Visanthe Shiancoe (groin) and G Anthony Herrera (knee) were also limited. Bevell said he thought Taylor's injury happened during Sunday's game.

"I don't think it is much to be worried about, but, again, he has plenty of time to rehab and try to overcome it. But it is what it is right now," Bevell said.

For Philadelphia, tackle Jon Runyan (glute) did not participate on Thursday and S Sean Considine (ankle) was limited. All other Eagles participated fully, according to the injury report.

NOTES

  • Former Vikings receiver Todd Lowber, the speedy basketball and track star from Ramapo College who spent the offseason with the Vikings before being released, had a tryout with the Baltimore Ravens on Wednesday.

  • Rookie defensive end Brian Robison is tied with Kenechi Udeze for the team lead with three sacks and has been seeing more playing time. Defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier said that has been intentional and that Robison can play both the run and the pass.

    "He's one of our best pass rushers and we've just got to make sure we get him on the field in those situations and allow him to do what he does best, and that's rush the passer," Frazier said. "We made a concerted effort just to monitor his reps and make sure that he got on the field in those key situations, and he did a good job when he was out there."

  • The Vikings now have the 26th-ranked defense and the 23rd-ranked offense. Yet, most people still believe the defense has to be getting frustrated with the offense's lack of scoring. Frazier said he hasn't sensed that from the players.

    "I don't sense it in any of our meetings with our defense or our team. I haven't sensed that being the case," he said. "We felt like we had a good chance to win that game on Sunday and the ball just didn't bounce our way. That one key play that kind of turned the game was that blocked field goal and those things can happen. Hopefully we'll get some of those types of plays in close ballgames that will go our way, but I don't sense a rift between our offense, defense or special teams."

  • Kicker Ryan Longwell said the trajectory of his field goal attempt that was blocked last week looked good, and all indications are that the Cowboys' Chris Canty just made a great play to knock over long snapper Cullen Loeffler and block the attempt, which was returned for a Dallas touchdown.

    "Certainly we could do a better job and we need to do a better job and we will do a better job in those ‘A' gaps and giving a little bit better support to Cullen," special teams coach Paul Ferraro said. "Cullen needs to keep his pads down. It was a combination of a lot of things, starting with a great effort on (Canty's) part."


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