Brian Westbrook was named NFC Offensive Player of the Week on Wednesday. Unfortunately, the running back also topped the list of five starters who did not participate in the team's first practice of the week.
Head coach Andy Reid outlined his team's fluid injury situation during his late morning press conference. Tight end L.J. Smith has been ruled out for Sunday night's game as he continues his recovery from last Friday's groin surgery.
Meanwhile, Westbrook (abdominal strain), free safety Brian Dawkins (neck stinger), cornerback Lito Sheppard (knee) and left tackle William Thomas (knee) all remain day-to-day with their respective injuries, although Reid said they are all "improving."
Some more than others.
"It's not by big strides that he's getting better, but he is making improvement," Reid said of Westbrook. "It was important a day or two after the game that he wasn't regressing at all."
Westbrook missed all but one practice last week due to a knee strain, but that didn't limit his productivity against the Lions. He had 110 yards rushing, 111 more receiving and three touchdowns before leaving Sunday's game with what he termed as a "freak" injury.
"I made a move," Westbrook said. "I kind of twisted my body a little bit."
Westbrook missed one game in 2004 after suffering a cracked rib and chest contusion, but he says this injury is completely different.
"It's a muscle type deal. It's muscles in there that are strained," he said. "Ribs are one of those injuries where you really can't give it a rest, because every time you move, you feel it and you are using that muscle. I've never had this injury before.
"I'm doing everything to get in a position so I can play."
Although he is unable to practice, Westbrook says he's keeping up to speed in the classroom and maintaining his conditioning. Bottom line: he is preparing to play.
"It's just [about] getting to a point where you're comfortable enough to go out there and perform at a high level," Westbrook said. "Like I said before, every time you move, you use your ribs and the muscle between your ribs. So that's something I have to be concerned with. I'm trying to do everything possible to get there. Really, only time will tell. I'm preparing myself as if I am going to play."
Said Reid: "We'll just see how he feels through these next couple of days."
That wait-and-see approach seems to apply to the other injured players as well. A determination on their status for the game, Reid indicated, could come as late as pre-game Sunday.
"I want everybody that can play to play. If they can't, then they can't. It's pretty simple, whether you have a bye week or not," Reid said. "Those are just day-to-day situations. We'll just see how they progress here. They're living in the training room. So, they're getting plenty of treatment and we'll see how they do."
Thomas left Sunday's game in the third quarter with an MCL sprain, but Reid says it's not as severe as the one that has sidelined Sheppard the last two games.
"[It's] not quite the same. [It's] not quite as bad as what Lito had," Reid said.
Sheppard has done some conditioning work of late but has yet to participate in practice. Dawkins, meanwhile, remains sidelined because of a neck stinger he sustained last Monday night.
"Both of them are Pro Bowl players and we'd love to have them," Reid said of Dawkins and Sheppard. "But the guys that have replaced them and stepped in for them have done a nice job."
Reserves on both sides of the ball -- Quintin Mikell, William James, Joselio Hanson, Matt Schobel, Brent Celek and Winston Justice -- have filled in admirably when called upon in recent weeks and may be called upon heavily again Sunday night at the Meadowlands.