Practice notes: Life without Bradley

Every afternoon, when practice breaks, the entire team gathers briefly in the middle of the field.

The players then split into their positional groups and huddle one more time before stretching and heading inside.

Today, at about 3:49 p.m., after the linebackers huddled up at the 40-yard line, defensive coordinator Sean McDermott kept two of them for an extra minute or two.

Joe Mays and Omar Gaither.

The potential replacements for linebacker Stewart Bradley, who, according to the Inquirer and Daily News, will be out for the season with a torn ACL.

After the brief talk with McDermott, the players smacked each other on the head and joined the rest of their teammates.

Let the competition begin.

Here are some other notes from practice:

** Mays said he has not talked to Bradley and did not know the exact nature of his injury. But seconds later, that didn't appear to be the case. He said starting at middle linebacker is something he's been waiting on and looking forward to. He said he would be the one calling the signals and added that he's ready for the job.

** Mays said he knows what he has to do but is working on knowing what everyone else is supposed to be doing. He knows he can get the defense lined up and is used to being a leader from college.

** He said he has gotten a lot better in coverage, and versatility will be something he has to show to beat Gaither out for the starting job.

** I only listened to Gaither briefly, but he said he feels like he's the best man for any job. Prior to Bradley's injury, Gaither was trying to unseat Akeem Jordan at weak-side linebacker. Now, he said, he'll be shooting for both positions.

** Donovan McNabb said Bradley going down was a "major loss."

** Mays took all the first-team reps at middle linebacker during practice. Gaither remained the weak-side LB running with the second team. From what I saw, it was Charleston Hughes getting reps at MLB with the second team.

** As expected, Sheldon Brown and Asante Samuel were the first-team cornerbacks. It had been Brown and Ellis Hobbs when Samuel was sidelined.

** There were no pads this afternoon, but a couple nice plays by defensive end Bryan Smith. On one snap, he got around King Dunlap, for what would have been a sack. And on another play, he deflected what was intended to be a wide receiver screen and almost came up with an interception.

** The team practices everything during these sessions, including properly spiking the ball. There were referees here today, and the Eagles tried to simulate a two-minute drill. Donovan McNabb spiked the ball at one point, and Marty Mornhinweg reminded the linemen that they all have to be set and not moving.

** Kevin Curtis beat Trae Williams for a long reception from McNabb.

** A.J. Feeley seems to get intercepted three or four times a day. Today he was picked by Sean Jones, Tank Daniels and Byron Parker.

** Earlier posts today on Jon Runyan and Bradley.

** Below I talked to the Daily News' John Smallwood about the Reid press conference, the Bradley injury and more.