Despite sitting out practice all week, cornerback Asante Samuel and defensive end Juqua Parker are listed as questionable for Sunday's game against the Bears. Defensive tackle Antonio Dixon is also questionable, but appears to have more of a chance to play Sunday than the other two.
Eagles coach Andy Reid said all three starters are "day-to-day" and are expected to make the trip to Chicago. Samuel has a knee sprain and Parker has a hip flexor strain. Dixon strained his abdominal in practice Thursday.
Normally, players that don't practice all week don't play, but Reid said that because Samuel and Parker are veterans they could jump back in without preparation. Samuel's coverage skills have been a key to the defense's recent string of strong showings.
With he and Parker were out all week, though, it appears unlikely either will play.
Dixon, meanwhile, is a crucial piece of the run defense. He did not practice Friday after leaving Thursday's practice early. Dixon did take some mental reps and seems to be ahead of the other two in terms of his recovery.
"He made a big jump from yesterday to today, so I’m optimistic," Reid said.
If Dixon can't go, Brodrick Bunkley will return to starting, but will continue rotating with fellow tackles Trevor Laws and converted defensive end Darryl Tapp. Bunkley has been playing the last few weeks as part of the defensive tackle rotation. Rookie Brandon Graham will start in Parker's place if he's out and Joselio Hanson will fill in for Samuel.
Hanson would likely play in place of Samuel in the base defensive package and cover the slot receiver in nickel formations -- as he usually does. Rookie Trevard Lindley seems likely to fill in on the outside when Hanson plays the slot.
Playing alone on the corner represents a different challenge for Hanson from playing in the slot, where there is more nearby support.
"Being outside you feel like you're out there by yourself," Hanson said. "You're on an island as people say."
Hanson said he always prepares like a starter, even when he is listed as a back up. He might have chances for a big day against the sometimes careless Jay Cutler, who earlier this year threw four interceptions in one day.
"One guy had four in one game," Hanson said. "Hopefully I can have a game like that."
Parker is almost surely out. Graham has said he expects to start Sunday.