Officials answer Eagles' questions about rules

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L.J. Smith stretches while sitting on the sidelines.

BETHLEHEM - Three officials from referee Bill Carollo's crew are spending 3 days this week with the Eagles, working practices and answering rules questions. One of the big changes this year, a direct result of the New England Patriots' spying debacle, will be the use of radio helmets by defensive players .

Each team will designate two players who can have the special helmets, through which a coach on the sideline can relay the defensive call without having to use hand signals. But only one player may be on the field at a time with that special helmet - marked with a green decal, like the quarterback's radio helmet. That means if you want to have both guys on the field, one must wear a regular helmet and keep his radio helmet someplace on the sideline.

Every time you switch the player with the helmet, you must report to the umpire. Failure to do that, or having both radio helmets on the field at the same time, results in a penalty.

And what if both players designated as radio helmet-wearers get hurt? Is the team out of luck?

"Basically, yes," said Gary Arthur, a line judge. "You can't switch helmets to somebody else."

Brown's OK with things

Cornerback Sheldon Brown, part of the three-headed surprise at cornerback with Assante Samuel and Lito Sheppard, picked off a pass yesterday and returned it for a touchdown.

And then he reiterated his position that he will be fine with however the playing time at cornerback works out.

"It doesn't need to be addressed right now because one of the guys is already down," Brown said, referring to Samuel's ongoing hamstring problem. "Let's see how it rolls . . .

"I compete every year. That's fine with me. I welcome every challenge and I have fun when I play football." *