Brian Westbrook has been treated for swelling in his oft-injured right ankle, which could keep him out of Wednesday's practice, but coach Andy Reid said the reason Westbrook did not play against Dallas on Sunday night was strictly because of headaches.
“He was feeling it Friday afternoon,” Reid said. “The reason he didn’t play was because of the headache.”
Reid said that right now, Westbrook is expected to practice Wednesday.
“I’m telling you that sitting here today,” he said. “Right now. I just talked to him. He feels good. We’ll see … If he doesn’t go on Wednesday, that would be the case [because of the ankle] unless something crazy happens with his concussions.”
The other main subject of the day for Reid was close games.
The Eagles are 1-8-1 in their last 10 games decided by less than six points Reid was told.
“That’s a pretty good stat,” Reid said. “There is probably some form of a link. I’m not sure what that link is, other than that stat. We have to do better in those situations on both sides of the ball.”
Reid was asked if he thought the team lacked focus at the end of close games.
“I didn’t see that,” he said. “I see guys battling. I didn’t think that was the case. Maybe we’re trying too hard. That might be the problem. I’ve seen maximum effort out there. It looked the concentration was there and the guys were pretty focused.”
How about tightness or pressing?
“I didn’t necessarily feel a tightness, a press,” Reid said. “I don’t think that was the case, either.”
Other issues that arose in the aftermath of the Eagles’ loss:
*On the infamous fourth-down spot that was the turning point of the Dallas loss, Reid indicated that he had learned the officials decided McNabb's elbow was down, apparently before he slid forward across the backs of linemen, McNabb then seeming to gain much more than enough for a first down, when he needed to gain about a foot.
The NFL rules read: "When a runner is contacted by a defensive player and he touches the ground with any part of his body except his hands or his feet, the ball shall be declared dead immediately." It certainly was impossible to discern any whistle being blown Sunday night before McNabb slid forward, and there still doesn't seem to be a camera angle that actually shows a McNabb elbow touching the ground, but that's the ruling, and it makes more sense than what Sunday night seemed to be a puzzling refusal to grant obvious forward progress.
UPDATED: Cancel that "makes more sense" thought. Just watched the replay, over and over again, on NFL.com. Go watch it yourself, if you enjoy frustration. The "elbow" angle is nonsense. The whole time, McNabb's left elbow is on the backs of Cowboys, coming to rest on a Cowboy helmet. His right elbow is tilted up in the air. If that was the explanation the NFL gave Reid, he needs to insist on a better one.
Also, you can watch the previous play, the third-and-1 LeSean McCoy run, on which the Eagles didn't challenge the spot. Freeze the action and you can clearly see the ball at least even with TV's yellow line, as McCoy is hit. If the yellow line is right (and sometimes it isn't), McCoy had the first down.
* Kick returner and corner Ellis Hobbs is seeing a spinal surgeon about the neck injury he sustained against the Cowboys, which is never a good sign. Starting weakside linebacker Akeem Jordan has what Reid termed a "bone bruise" on his knee, which usually translates from Eaglespeak into a knee sprain that will keep Jordan out a while. The Eagles have already dipped pretty deep into a thin pool of linebackers, so that injury could really be trouble.
* The Birds were decimated by penalties and are now the fifth-most penalized team in the NFL. “You’ve got to discipline yourself to do that. You have to practice so those things don’t happen. It hasn’t been a lack of effort with the penalties, or concentration.” Reid said a lot of the penalties are “young player penalties” that you don’t see veterans commit.
* Asked about how Donovan McNabb could look so good one week and struggle the next, Reid said, “He had some nice throws and then there were some that were off.” He said he did not think McNabb’s ribs or wearing a flak jacket were a problem.
* Reid was asked about Michael Vick’s comments in an interview with NBC in which Vick said he thought it would be hard to return to the Eagles next season and that he is not a “Wildcat guy.” “Michael Vick was one of the very, very good quarterbacks in the National Football League,” Reid said. “That’s not what he is – a Wildcat player. He’s a quarterback, that’s what he is. But for this team here and giving him an opportunity to play and presenting another threat for defenses, he’s very good at that and enjoying doing that and having an opportunity to play. Asked if he was disappointed at Vick’s production thus far, Reid said, “I’m not disappointed at all. He has handled himself very well. I had no set number of plays that I was going to put him in.”
The Eagles' idea of the Wildcat seems to be for Vick to run between the tackles, which has never been his forte. He never seems to have a pass option, which is how most people envisioned this being successful for the Birds.
* On the Eagles being 5-3 at the midpoint. “There are eight more big games. We’re sitting here with a decent record and a good position. We have to just take care of business.”