Maclin Starting for Curtis

Turns out, that big ice pack Kevin Curtis was wearing on his left knee Thursday was a harbinger. Curtis did not practice Friday and is listed as questionable for Sunday's game against Tampa Bay because of the knee problem, which caused him to miss the last game, against Kansas City.Jeremy Maclin

Eagles coach Andy Reid said Jeremy Maclin will again start in Curtis's spot. It's obvious that this could become a permanent arrangement, with Curtis limping toward a second successive injury-marred season. Maclin, the Eagles' top draft pick this past spring, caught four passes for 33 yards against KC.

"He's worked very hard. He's a smart kid," Reid said of Maclin.

"I hope it is" the start of a long run in the lineup, Maclin said. "I have no control over that."

Maclin strarted to come on in Week 2, after barely seeing the field in the opener, which means he has yet to catch a regular-season pass from Donovan McNabb. The Birds' QB is returning this week from a two-game rib injury absence.

" 'Five' came back and didn't miss a beat; he's still one of the best quarterbacks," Maclin said. "He's going to put the ball on the money ... I think I've gotten (his trust)."


Reid was asked Friday about team president Joe Banner's reiteration in a Comcast interview that he expects to sign Reid to another coaching deal. Reid, who can gain his 100th Eagles win Sunday in his 11th season, is signed through 2010. There have been indications the Eagles are in the process of hammering out a new agreement with their winningest coach.

"I love the Philadelphia Eagles, but right now, I'm focused on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers," Reid said Friday, when asked about contract talks.


Each week, Daily News football writer Paul Domowitch will tell you the things he will be keeping his eyes on during that week’s game:

1. Tampa Bay’s elusive QB: The Bucs have benched Byron Leftwich and gone to second-year man Josh Johnson, who is short on experience but long on escapability. He runs a sub-4.5 40-yard dash and can do some damage with his legs if the Eagles don’t maintain their rush lanes and keep him in the pocket.

2. Trotter’s return: The Eagles have brought the former Pro Bowl middle linebacker back, and Sunday we’ll get a chance to see how they’re going to use him and how much gas he has left in his tank. With an inexperienced quarterback, the Bucs are going to want to give the ball to Cadillac Williams as much as possible.

3. Eagles’ third-down defense: The Eagles are second in the league in third-down defense after pitching an 0-for-11 shutout against the Chiefs 2 weeks ago. Now they go against a Bucs offense that has managed to convert just two of its last 22 third-down opportunities. Look for a lot of three-and-outs.

4. Mixmaster Andy: With Donovan McNabb back after missing the last two games with a fractured rib, we’re going to get our first look at how Andy Reid mixes Michael Vick and the spread with McNabb and the West Coast, and whether Vick’s in-and-out presence effects the flow of the McNabb-led offense. Vick was on the field for 11 of 63 snaps in Week 3.

5. The tight ends:  The Eagles’ Brent Celek already has 22 catches in three games and is going up against a defense that has not done a very good job of shutting down opposing tight ends. Meanwhile, the Bucs’ Kellen Winslow is his team’s leading receiver (17 catches). His speed makes him a tough matchup for opposing linebackers and safeties.