Jeremy Maclin sat out the team walk through this morning and was not participating in the Thursday afternoon practice, and if he's not ready on Sunday, the Eagles leading receiver will be replaced by Riley Cooper, the second-year player who has yet to catch a pass this season.
"Opportunity has held him back," said offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. "He's been impressive in practice."
Maclin is dealing with hamstring and shoulder injuries, and while he hasn't practiced Mornhinweg said the veteran receiver is a fast healer who could play even with few practice snaps. While Steve Smith filled in for DeSean Jackson last week, Cooper is Maclin's understudy. Jason Avant would surely play a large role in any game plan, but he primarily plays in the slot.
Cooper has played in every game on special teams, but has only been targeted three times on passes. He has no receptions after having seven catches for 116 yards and one touchdown as a rookie last year.
"I haven’t got a whole lot of opportunities this year but like I always say, we've got so many weapons on our team at the receiver position, I’m not mad about it," Cooper said. "Everyone’s time comes, hopefully this is mine."
Cooper said he isn't preparing differently this week, because he always gets ready as if he has to start.
Marty Mornhinweg said he's "optimistic" that quarterback Mike Vick can play Sunday, but the quarterback was not participating in practice Thursday.
"He's a tough guy and he wants to play. He's tough mentally and physically and he's doing everything he can, so we'll see," Mornhinweg said.
Of course, Eagles coaches can be vague and deceptive with their injury reports even when minor players are involved, let alone when they are talking about their starting quarterback, so Mornhinweg's optimism should be considered in that context.
If Vick plays, he'll have to play at a "high level" regardless of injury, Mornhinweg said. He said he knew Vick was hurt Sunday, but did not realize the extent of it.
"I knew he was hurting a little bit I knew that, I certainly didn't know that he actually fractured a couple ribs," Mornhinweg said.
Juan Castillo helped answer one of the big questions many have asked since Sunday: why wasn't Nnamdi Asomugha matched up on Larry Fitzgerald all day?
The Eagles like using Asante Samuel on the left side of the defense because he has excelled there, so they don't want to move him. That leaves Asomugha to play on the right side or in the slot, but not on the left. Asomugha may press, while Samuel plays off, Castillo said.
"That's what Asante's best at. That's what he's made his living at. I do know this, Asante intercepted a pass for a touchdown the other day and it was against number 11," Castillo said. "What we're trying to do is use both of them to do what they do best."
Castillo said Asomugha doesn't have to stay on the top opposing receiver because the Eagles feel confident Samuel can also do the job.
"You're looking at comparable corners. Asante did intercept the pass for a touchdown," Castillo said.
Samuel was lined up across from Fitzgerald on the big fourth quarter pass that set up the Cardinals' winning score. He let Fitzgerald run deep, against Jaiquawn Jarrett. Several Eagles said after the game there was a blown assignment on the play. While no one would identify who missed the coverage, Samuel ended up in no man's land, covering no one.