Andrews Back, Sort of

Shawn Andrews finally returned to the Eagles from California last week. (Ron Cortes/Staff file photo)

The fro-hawk hairdo now is accented with a dyed-red crest, making Shawn Andrews look like either a rooster that would have to herald the sunrise from a very stout perch, or a woodpecker capable of taking down seqouias

. Underneath it, he still looks like a dominant, All-Pro guard, but Andrews gave no indication yesterday that he is close to returning to that mode. Andrews finally returned to the Eagles from California last week, after several delays caused by unsatisfactory healing progress following his Oct. 21 back surgery by Dr. Robert Watkins.

  Andrews has not been placed on injured reserve, but yesterday he said he has not been cleared to do any exercise kore strenuous than lifting 5-pound weights or walking, with just four weeks remaining in the Eagles' season. More troubling, he indicated his back still does not feel right.

 The upshot would seem to be what most people expected -- Nick Cole will be the Birds' right guard as they scramble to get back into the playoff picture, in the wake of Max Jean-Gilles' season-ending broken ankle, suffered in Thursday's victory over the Cardinals.

 Andrews said that through the Eagles, he booked several return flights that he ended up canceling, as Watkins kept suggesting he stay in Marina del Rey.

"It was just some things he saw in the X-rays and the MRIs, and kind of the way I told him I felt, that he used to gauge it," Andrews said Monday, as his teammates began preparations for this weekend's visit to the Giants.

"You can hope all you want, and I do hope," Andrews said, when asked if he had any hope of playing again this season. Andrews has been out since being injured Week 2 at Dallas. "I don't know what the possibilities are. So I'm back here, working with (head athletic trainer Rick Burkholder) and the guys now, so it's a matter of gettting to that point where I can get out there and push and pull and take some people out."

  Not part of Shawn Andrews' dietAndrews, who missed the first 17 days of training camp battling depression, said he recently became a pescetarian -- which apparently has nothing to do with any fan club for the "Goodfellas" and "Home Alone" star, but instead pertains to eating vegetables and fish.

  "I'm focusing on today," Andrews said, when asked to assess his chances of returning soon. "I would like to get back out there, but for now I'm just going by the protocol Dr. Watkins, coach (Andy) Reid and Rick Burkholder have set up for me.

 "If I can get back out there, that'd be a plus, but if not, then next year."

"My offensive line, they've been struggling, and it's tough to not be able to be here and struggle with them," Andrews said. "If I were them, I'd probably have some kind of feelings toward me, but I can't do anything about the back surgery."