Eagles Notebook: With Jordan likely out, Eagles D continues to shuffle

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While Will Witherspoon has been a welcomed addition to the Eagles' depleted linebacker corp, defensive injuries continue to hurt the team. ( Ron Cortes / Staff Photographer )

Officially, Akeem Jordan remains day-to-day as he recovers from a hyperextended knee, but again this week, Jordan hasn't practiced.

More than likely the Eagles will reprise last week's Joe Mays-Jeremiah Trotter combo in the middle, with middle linebacker Will Witherspoon taking Jordan's weakside role. Mays and Trotter weren't perfect against the Bears, but they were better than the Chris Gocong experiment the previous week.

Defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said yesterday that Jordan is "working hard to get back," but he seemed to agree it was unlikely Jordan is ready to play a whole game, even if he is cleared to participate. McDermott went almost exclusively with Trotter in the second half at Chicago; Mays played most of the first half, after Trotter took the first snap.

Trotter hadn't played extensively since giving up an 86-yard touchdown in the Oct. 18 loss at Oakland, just a week into his comeback. He looked much quicker against the Bears.

"He's worked extremely hard to get himself back into shape where he can play and play well," McDermott said. "I think it's important that we manage our expectations with Jeremiah. With the point that he's at in his career, that we have a good blend between Joe and Trotter at the same time."

Asked about Mays, who lost the middle-linebacking job in training camp, McDermott indicated he also has made progress.

"He did pretty much as we expected him to do," McDermott said. "First-time starter, he rallied, made some plays. The No. 1 thing Joe did is, he got us lined up, and as a middle linebacker and the quarterback of the defense, when you're in that position, you have to get us lined up . . . In addition to that, he made some plays where he was flying to the football, which was good to see, as a natural linebacker. I think any player in their first start very rarely comes out of a game and doesn't experience some plays that they'd like to have back, and that's why I say Joe was coming off that first start."

Trotter said: "It felt good just to get out there and kind of get into a little rhythm, get some plays back-to-back."

"I knew it was only a matter of time before God gave me my legs back. It's crazy - I was praying last week, and my pastor told me he prayed for me to get my legs back, and I could feel the difference in the game."

Trotter said he hadn't expected to play as much as he did in Chicago.

"I was surprised they just kind of left me out there," he said. "I always say, you've got to be ready to play, because you never know when your number gets called."

Trotter said he has no idea how much playing time to expect against the Redskins.

 

More surgery for Shawn

 

Stacy Andrews said yesterday that his brother Shawn will soon undergo more back surgery, a disc procedure by Dr. Robert Watkins out in California, where Shawn has been rehabbing since September.

Shawn Andrews confirmed the surgery in a Tweet yesterday. He said it would involve two discs. "Lord willing, I can play again," Andrews said. "We will see. SHOULD set me pain-free."

"He was out there rehabbing, and he wasn't getting any better," Stacy said. (Though the Eagles, whenever they have been questioned about Shawn Andrews lately, have maintained he is making progress.)

Stacy Andrews said that last week, after Shawn complained, Watkins did a test that involved injecting dye into his spine, and the disc problem was discovered. He said it isn't clear whether it has been present all along, or if Shawn has done inadvertently something during his rehab that caused a setback.

"He'll be fine" by next spring's minicamps, Stacy Andrews said. "He just has to get it right."

As with many of Shawn's setbacks, this one seemed oddly timed, becoming public the week the Eagles signed Winston Justice, his replacement at right tackle, to a 4-year contract extension.

 

Harris back in nickel

 

Macho Harris lost the starting free-safety job to Sean Jones, but with Ellis Hobbs out for the season and Joselio Hanson sitting out a 4-week suspension for taking a banned diuretic, Harris worked last week as a nickel corner. Sean McDermott indicated the rookie did a good job, and will play there again this week.

"He's a very instinctive football player," McDermott said. "It's important that the matchups in the slot are the way we want them to be, and Macho gives us some things off the edge from a blitzing standpoint. And then he's physical, too, dropping down from that safety position. So he made some nice plays on the rocket screens, as we call them, the wide-receiver screens early in the game, which was important for us."

Harris was a corner at Virginia Tech and has never completely given up on playing that position in the pros. He said he enjoys playing inside in the nickel.

"I get a chance to showcase my talent as far as blitzing, guarding man-to-man, playing in the box and stuff like that," he said.