The Eagles have acquired St. Louis Rams veteran linebacker Will Witherspoon in exchange for rookie wide receiver Brandon Gibson and a fifth-round draft pick in 2010.
Witherspoon, 29, will inherit the role played by Omar Gaither so far this season. Eagles coach Andy Reid said that Gaither is scheduled to visit a foot specialist and is unlikely to be able to play Monday night against the Washington Redskins.
"We'll put him at the (middle linebacker) spot to start with," Reid said during a conference call with reporters. "It doesn't look like OMar is going to be able to go for a little bit here. He's going to see a foot specialist in a day or so."
Witherspoon left the Rams' overtime loss to Jacksonville Sunday with a bruised tailbone, but Reid said he would be able to play. He had been playing weakside linebacker this season with the Rams, but he has experience at middle linebacker as well. Reid said the fact that he's been playing in coach Steve Spagnuolo's defense with St. Louis should allow Witherspoon to make a smooth and quick transition to defensive coordinator Sean McDermott's system.
The Eagles had also expressed some interest in Witherspoon when he was with the Carolina Panthers, but he opted to sign with the Rams as a free agent in 2006. His best season in St. Louis was 2007 when he had seven sacks and 110 tackles.
One of Witherspoon's strengths in the past has been pass coverage. He had six interceptions and 20 passes defended in his final two seasons with the Panthers, which are both high numbers for a linebacker. He had one interception and one sack last season with the Rams, but does not have a sack or an interception this season.
"He's a three-down linebacker," Reid said. "He came play both (middle and weakside linebacker) and he's very good at both of them. He's a good cover linebacker. He can cover tight ends and running backs, which is a plus."
Gibson, a sixth-round pick by the Eagles in this year's draft, was inactive for four of the team's first five games, but he had impressed the team at training camp and during the preseason. He had also made some incredible catches in practice while playing with the scout team.
"Listen, I kept him on, which I normally don’t keep that many wide receivers," Reid said. "I think that speaks for itself. I think he's going to have a great career in the NFL."
Reid said he expects guard Todd Herremans to be able to practice when the team returns to the field Thursday at the NovaCare Complex.
"There’s a good chance he’ll be out there," Reid said. "I'm not going to say he's 100 percent, but he's pretty close."