Mays out for Carolina; Vick still exempt

Linebacker Joe Mays is out for Sunday's season opener at Carolina, Eagles coach Andy Reid said today. The backup middle linebacker has a shoulder sprain.

Mays recently lost out on the open competition for the starting middle linebacker spot to Omar Gaither. Reid said that SAM linebacker Chris Gocong would move to the middle if Gaither went down. Gocong's backup is rookie Moise Fokou.

Gaither has been hobbled by a knee strain and only recently returned to practice.

"I wouldn't say neccessarily that it's a concern," Reid said of Gaither's injury. "I know that he's feeling better. Time was very important in this injury and he's had the time to heal up. ... I know he can play the middle linebacker position."

Reid also said that Michael Vick would remain on the exempt list, meaning that the quarterback can't participate in practice. The Eagles can take Vick off the special exempt list at any time before he's reinstated for Week 3.

"The way the rule works is he can work out with his coach after practice," Reid said. "He just can't go through team activities during practice."

Reid said that Vick will travel with the team down to Charlotte for Sunday's game.

As of now, it sounds as if the Eagles will carry seven wide receivers with them for the opener. The team carried six wideouts last season, but DeSean Jackson, Kevin Curtis, Jason Avant, Jeremy Maclin, Hank Baskett, Brandon Gibson and Reggie Brown all made the team -- for now. The Eagles were reportedly looking to unload Brown but have yet to find a suitor.

"We feel like we have some good players there," Reid said, explaining why there are seven wide receivers on the 53-man roster.

Todd Herremans is the only other player right now that is out for the Panthers game. The guard is recovering from surgery to correct a stress fracture in his left foot. Reid said that Herremans is out for at least two games. It sounds like Nick Cole and Max Jean-Gilles will split duties filling in for the injured Herremans.

Reid also explained the reason behind the team choosing rookie Macho Harris as its starting free safety. Harris, who played only cornerback in college at Virginia Tech, beat out Quintin Demps.

"We brought Macho here with the thought that he may be able to do that," Reid said. "It's worked where he's at the safety spot and it's worked out well. I think he's picking up pretty well. We'll just see how he does here. I think everybody has got confidence in him to put him at that spot."