Surgery for Omar; Crash Course for Witherspoon

Eagles linebacker Omar Gaither puts pressure on Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel on Sept. 27. (Michael S. Wirtz / Staff Photographer)

Eagles middle linebacker Omar Gaither will have Lisfranc surgery on his injured foot this week, Eagles coach Andy Reid said. The surgery will almost certainly end Gaither's season, although the team has not officially placed him on injured reserve. Gaither went down late in the fourth quarter against the Raiders.Jeremiah Trotter bids goodbye to Omar Gaither in 2007; they would meet again.

Reid said he was not sure what he would do to fill Gaither's roster spot, once Gaither is officially done. A wide receiver could be a possibility, because Kevin Curtis is getting a second opinion on his sore knee. Curtis has missed the last three games.

The Eagles traded for linebacker Will Witherspoon from the Rams earlier this week, and he becomes the instant starter in the middle, with Jeremiah Trotter playing behind him. The Birds had to send rookie wideout Brandon Gibson to St. Louis, along with a fifth-round draft pick. Given Curtis's situation, the Eagles obviously would have preferred to keep Gibson around.

After practice, Witherspoon said he will take a crash course in Sean McDermott's defense; which is similar to what he ran in St. Louis under former Eagles assistant Steve Spagnuolo -- but Witherspoon noted he was playing weakside in St. Louis, not the midddle.

"I don't really say it's that difficult; the defenses are fairly similar, there's a lot of similar communication. But at the same time, changing positions makes it a little bit different," Witherspoon said. "I think I'll get a good grasp of things by the time I get to the game."

 Witherspoon is helped by the fact that the Rams played the Redskins in Week 2, losing 9-7, so Washington's tendencies are fresh in his mind.

Trotter said he was "excited about" the addition of a proven veteran to a young linebacking corps.

Trotter empathized with Gaither, whom he noted was "looking to have a big year this year" as a platform for offseason free agency.

"O.G., he's a tough guy, he'll bounce back," Trotter said.

*In other injury news, Reid said Todd Herremans will work in at left guard against Washington in his season debut after Aug. 28 foot surgery. Herremans said he assumes he is starting, though he needs to get through the practice week first.

*Defensive end Victor Abiamiri has a knee sprain and won't play this week.

*The Eagles also made two practice squad moves, adding wide receiver Dobson Collins and bringing back guard/center Dallas Reynolds. They replace Mike Gibson, who was signed to Seattle's 53-man roster, and Stoney Woodson, who was released.

:*Asked about cornerback Asante Samuel's tackling, Reid said Samuel will "keep working at that."

*Quarterback Donovan McNabb said "this is a very big game" coming up Monday night at Washington.

*Brian Westbrook answered all the familiar queries about his frustration over the Eagles' shunning of the run game."I talk to (offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg) throughout the game, let him know what I think will work," Westbrook said. "Sometimes he listens, sometimes he doesn't."

*Westbrook said he feels the Birds have a better run-blocking line this year than in 2008; "our tackles are younger and more athletic," he said, but constant pass-blocking tends to make the line drift toward passivity, he said.

*Westbrook lauded his brother Byron, a cornerback who is on the Redskins' roster after two years as a practice squad member. "It really speaks to his character and work ethic," Westbrook said.