While the Vikings are hoping to get their top run-stuffing defensive lineman back on the field, the Eagles are probably going to be without one of their best run-stoppers on the defensive line.
The Eagles likely will be without defensive end Victor Abiamiri
on Sunday when they face NFL rushing champion Adrian Peterson
and the Minnesota Vikings
in the first round of the playoffs.
Abiamiri, who has been a big reason the Eagles have held their last seven opponents to just 3.11 yards per carry, sprained his foot two weeks ago in a 10-3 loss to the Washington Redskins. He sat out last week's playoff-clinching 44-6 win over the Dallas Cowboys.
"I wish we had him back this week," defensive coordinator Jim Johnson said, "but I don't think that's going to happen. That was a tough one, because he was doing a good job inside and outside."
The Eagles know the key to stopping the Vikings will be controlling Peterson, who rushed for 1,760 yards this season. The Eagles faced him last year and held him to 70 yards on 20 carries in a 23-16 win.
Abiamiri, who lines up at left end on first and second down and moves inside to tackle in the Eagles' nickel package, will be replaced by undersized Juqua Parker
. Parker is a good pass rusher but doesn't play the run as well as Abiamiri does.
QB Donovan McNabb has not thrown an interception in four of the past five games. He completed 23 of 36 passes against the Vikings last year in a 23-16 win.
RB Brian Westbrook likely will be a bigger factor as a receiver than a runner Sunday against a Vikings defense that is ranked first in the league against the run. Last year, the Vikings held Westbrook to 2.2 yards per carry.
RB Correll Buckhalter got 13 touches in last week's win over the Cowboys, averaging 6.3 yards per carry and 19.7 yards per catch. Whether that will translate into more than one or two touches Sunday, though, remains to be seen.
TE L.J. Smith missed last week's game with a shoulder injury, and he is expected to be inactive again this week. Brent Celek will start at tight end. Celek had three catches for 30 yards in last week's win over the Cowboys and did a good job of blocking.
WR Kevin Curtis, who is recovering from a calf injury, was used sparingly last week against Dallas. He was on the field for just a handful of plays and caught one pass. He is expected to play more this week.
WR DeSean Jackson has caught two or fewer passes in three of the past four games. While he leads the team in receptions with 62, he's got just two touchdown catches, and only one since Week 4.
SS Quintin Mikell has been a big reason for the Eagles' improvement in defending tight ends in the passing game. Defensive coordinator Jim Johnson has alternated using Mikell and WLB Akeem Jordan on the tight end. Last week, the Eagles held dangerous Jason Witten to 7.1 yards per catch.