To no great surprise, Jim Washburn was nonplussed when his protege, Jason Babin, was released by the Eagles on Tuesday, sources close to the defensive line coach said.
Washburn was upset, according to one source, because he believed that Babin was being scapegoated for the deficiencies of the Eagles defense, especially up front. Andy Reid said Tuesday after he cut Babin that Washburn was OK with the move.
A request made through the Eagles to interview Washburn was declined.
Babin led the Eagles with 5-1/2 sacks through 11 games, but his production had dipped from last season when he recorded 18 sacks and made his second straight Pro Bowl. If he isn't claimed him off waivers before 4 p.m., Babin would become a free agent.
Trent Cole, one of Babin's closest friends on the team, said his fellow defensive end found out he was being released when he fielded a call from Reid in Cole's garage.
"I was surprised," Cole said. "It's the NFL. I've been in the league for eight years now and seen people come and go. It's just business."
With Babin gone, Brandon Graham will start at left defensive end. Reid cited the opportunity to play younger players as the reason for Babin's release. Graham has made the most of his limited plays this season, but has tailed off recently.
"This is my shot. This is what I asked for," the third-year end said. "This is what I wanted. And now it's here and I got to take full advantage."
Vinny Curry is another young defensive end that is expected to see more playing time with Babin gone. The rookie played in his first game Sunday against the Panthers and led all defensive linemen with five tackles. He played only 21 snaps.
"It was just shocking," Curry said of Babin's release. "I learned a lot from watching him. But at the end of the day I don't control that."
MATHIS TO CENTER?
With Dallas Reynolds sidelined with an ankle sprain, there's a strong chance that Evan Mathis will move from left guard to center for the Eagles' Sunday night game at Dallas.
Mathis told reporters that he was the first team center during Wednesday's morning walkthrough. Danny Watkins, who missed the last three games with an ankle injury, was at left guard in Mathis' spot.
Reynolds was not practicing Wednesday. He said there was still a chance that he would be ready to play on Sunday. He does not have a high ankle sprain. The other option at center would be for the Eagles to start backup Matt Tennant.
-- Michael Vick was scheduled to undergo an ImPACT test at noon. The Eagles quarterback had failed to reach baseline in several other tests since he suffered a concussion on Nov. 11. Vick was last said to be in Phase 4 of the Eagles' five-phase protocol for return. He isn't expected to play Sunday and rookie Nick Foles will get his third straight start.
-- LeSean McCoy was spotted in the Eagles locker room during the open media session for the first time since he suffered a concussion on Nov. 18. The running back sat out Sunday's game against the Panthers and is unlikely to play this Sunday at Dallas. Reid said Tuesday that McCoy was still in Phase 1.
-- Fletcher Cox was not practicing on Wednesday. The rookie defensive tackle has a lower back contusion. Cox said that he expected to be able to play Sunday.
-- Jason Avant (hamstring) returned to practice. The Eagles need the wide receiver after DeSean Jackson was placed on Injured Reserve Tuesday with fractured ribs. The Eagles did not add another receiver to the 53-man roster as of Wednesday afternoon, however. They still have two roster spots to fill.
-- As Reid hinted on Tuesday, there were no major changes in the secondary as the Eagles prepared for the Cowboys. The unit has struggled over the last five weeks, especially safeties Kurt Coleman and Nate Allen. Backup David Sims said he was frustrated, but that he was ready to go if called upon.