October 10, 2007

Westbrook, Smith and Sheppard Practice

Three up and three down.

Eagles running back Brian Westbrook, tight end L.J. Smith and cornerback Lito Sheppard practiced on Wednesday. Safety Brian Dawkins, left tackle William Thomas and left guard Todd Herremans did not.

Westbrook missed the Giants game after hurting his ribs a week earlier against Detroit. Wednesday’s practice was his first since the injury.

"I really haven’t had an opportunity to test it out fully so I’ll get out there and see how things go,” Westbrook said. "I’ve been making gradual progress since I’ve had the injury, so hopefully that will continue.”

Smith has been out since undergoing surgery on Sept. 21 to expedite the healing of his groin injury. He practiced on a limited basis.

"I didn’t do a complete practice, but I did some things,” Smith said.

Smith played the season’s first two games, making four receptions for 26 yards, but clearly was hindered by the injury. He will not play Sunday against the Jets unless he feels close to 100 percent.

"I’m not going to put myself in the situation I was in the first two games,” Smith said. "I was out there hobbling around and didn’t look good. So if I go out there, I’m definitely going to be able to contribute in a major way. I’m not going to go out there 50 percent, 65 percent – I’m going to go out there and play at a high level.”

Coach Andy Reid announced Wednesday morning that Thomas would attempt to practice and Sheppard would not. It turned out to be the other way around. Both are suffering from sprained MCLs.

Sheppard has been out since suffering his in the season opener against Green Bay. He participated in individual drills on Wednesday.

"I wanted to get out there and gauge it but just not overdo it,” Sheppard said. "We don’t want to have any setbacks. It was kind of the minimum, but I was definitely going through some stuff.”

It seems as though it will at least be another week before Sheppard plays. He said he didn’t work out at game speed.

"There’s always a chance [I could play],” Sheppard said. "I got out there and practiced today, but that’s too early to say right now. We’re just going to see how the rest of this week goes and go from there.”

Like Smith, Sheppard doesn’t want to play at half speed.

"Like I tell everybody, I can’t get out there and be half Lito,” Sheppard said. "When I’m out there, I want to be out there to help my team. That’s what we’re working on right now.”

Thomas injured his knee against the Lions and did not play against the Giants.

"I’m very disappointed,” Thomas said about being unable to practice. "We’ll see how it goes. We’re taking it day to day right now. It’s getting better. It’s definitely getting better.”

Reid said he will not hesitate to start Winston Justice again at left tackle if Thomas can’t play. Justice struggled mightily against the Giants in his first career start.

"I have no problem with that,” Reid said. "I told him to keep his head up and keep firing. He’ll be fine. He’s a good, young football player.”

The Eagles are being cautious with Dawkins, who hasn’t played since suffering a stinger Week 2 against Washington.

"When you’re dealing with nerves, you just don’t know how long those are going to take,” Reid said. "You literally take them day by day. They could take a long time. We’re just playing it by ear. We know he wants to be out there – it’s killing him not to be out there. We want to make sure that thing is right.”

Dawkins went through an intense warm-up before the Giants game but was inactive.

"It's frustrating, very frustrating," Dawkins said Tuesday night during a scheduled appearance at Manny Brown’s in Langhorne, Pa. "All I can do is do what the doctors tell me and hope I'm able to play soon. It's a slow process, and I don't know how long it will take. Hopefully, not too long. It kills you to not be out there with your teammates, especially when things aren't going well.”

Herremans, who has yet to miss a game, underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on Oct. 2 but is expected to play. If Herremans is unable to play, then second-year pro Max Jean-Gilles will start at left tackle.

"I’m presuming that Herremans is going to play in the game,” Reid said.

"His knee was bothering him, so we checked it. He had a cartilage tear in there, so they went in there and cleaned it out. He was back up on his feet that day. The main thing is to keep the swelling down. He feels pretty good right now.”


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