Saturday, February 6, 2016

Samuel misses practice; Mornhinweg eyes Ratliff

Asante Samuel was not practicing Thursday, a bad sign for his availability Sunday. Meanwhile, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg has his eyes on the middle of the Cowboys line, and big nose tackle Jay Ratliff.

Samuel misses practice; Mornhinweg eyes Ratliff

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The Eagles defense allowed 55 points without Asante Samuel. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
The Eagles defense allowed 55 points without Asante Samuel. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

Asante Samuel sat out Eagles practice Thursday, a bad sign for his availability Sunday. He watched a portion of practice from the sideline, but then left.

"His knee's sore," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "He had it checked out and there's nothing structurally wrong."

Reid would not rule out the cornerback for the Cowboys game. Samuel has a knee sprain that has caused him to miss the last two games. He was unavailable for comment.

Samuel was limited Wednesday and was seen after practice walking with a limp and a large pack of ice on his knee.

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The Eagles are favored by 3 1/2 points against Dallas. That spread is ...
Too low. The Birds will win by more than that.
 
  189 (21.0%)
About right.
 
  352 (39.2%)
Too high. It looks like the Cowboys will win at home.
 
  358 (39.8%)
Total votes = 899

Winston Justice (knee) was also listed as out from Thursday's practice. It was the second straight day in a row that the tackle missed practice.

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As the Eagles offense aims for an improved showing in Dallas, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg has his eyes on the middle of the Cowboys line, and big nose tackle Jay Ratliff.

"Ratliff is a special player, and they've got several," said offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. "Ratliff chews people up."

Last year Ratliff faced off against Nick Cole, then in his second game at center as he filled in for the injured Jamaal Jackson. The big nose tackle didn't make it onto the stat sheet, but he was a disruptive presence.

"We had Nick – second game at center – we had some problems there. Not with Nick. Nick played pretty well, but we were just off a little bit," Mornhinweg said. He said the crowd noise was a big factor.

This year the task of handling Ratliff will fall largely on Mike McGlynn. He didn't talk to reporters this morning, though.

But Mornhinweg noted that the Eagles have had success against Dallas in the past, and says he looks forward to facing a 3-4 defense, despite an impression by some that his offense struggles against the versatile formation.

"We love the 3-4," Mornhinweg said. He said his offense was built at a time when many teams played 3-4, so, according to Mornhinweg, the scheme is suited to counter the defensive look.

He also credited the Cowboys front seven, though.

"They create some challenges for us, starting with their men that play on the line, including the linebackers," Mornhinweg said.

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When the Cowboys have the ball, defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said Dallas has run more with Jason Garrett in charge than before.

"They're trying to balance out their offense a little more," said defensive end Darryl Tapp, adding that the change might also be related to the Cowboys loss of starter Tony Romo.

**********

Defensive end Trent Cole confirmed that he was fined $20,000 for a low hit on Texans quarterback Matt Schaub. Cole said he was blocked into Schaub and plans to appeal.


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