Vick Vick Vick Vick! (But Really Westbrook) (Except Not Really)

Vick Vick Vick Vick! (But Really Westbrook) (Except Not Really)

Update: So much for our Westbrook hype.  Les Bowen reports the running back will not play, despite participating in warm-ups.  No word yet on why the plan changed.

While the whole world waits with baited breath for the return of the most electrifying man in sports entertainment, somebody significantly more important on the Eagles roster is taking the field to far less fanfare.  Only three months removed from a surgery many speculated would keep him out for the start of the regular season, Brian Westbrook is ready to go just in time for the big dress rehearsal.

Is anything more exciting than having Westbrook back in the lineup?  All the hoopla is naturally over Vick, but this offense has always been about 36.  He'll probably only play a few series, and that's plenty.  We only need a taste of that classic shifty style to know everything will be alright.

Of course the big story this week was not if Vick would play, but when?  Reid raised some eyebrows when he told reporters McNabb would take the first three quarters (as expected) and Kolb would get the fourth, adding Vick would not play in the final period.  All we can do is guess at this point as to exactly how they will utilize their new toy.  That alone is worth the price of admission.

Complicating the matter was Vick's appearance in bankruptcy court today in Virginia.  He spent most of the day traveling, and missed today's walkthrough as a result.  He obviously hasn't played in a long time, and they've only had two weeks to work on whatever it is the coaches have planned.  Don't be surprised if it looks ugly, but expect at least one play where Vick shows us there is still some amazing talent there.

The offense should be able to go vertical against the Jags, tonight's opponent in case you hadn't heard.  Besides having one of the weakest pass rushes in the league, their secondary is in rough shape as well, specifically at safety.  Football Outsiders describes Reggie Nelson as "a walking disaster in coverage," and the immortal Sean Considine man's the other position.  If you check out the highlights over at NFL.com from last week's Jaguars game, you'll literally hear "Sean Considine" and "arm tackle" in the same sentence.

Ideally, the defense will bounce back after a pair of games against the top two quarterbacks in the league.  The Jaguars invested first and second round picks in their offensive line, plus signed Tra Thomas and added WR Torry Holt, so their offense should be improved compared to last season.  The Eagles must try to confuse those young offensive linemen and get after QB David Garrard.

Jacksonville should have a much better campaign in '09, but we would like to see the Eagles starters exit the game with at least a 7-point lead, despite the fact they're still not anywhere close to full strength.  Stacy Andrews will play for the first time, but Shawn Andrews, Todd Herremans, and Leonard Weaver are held out again, and Sheldon Brown and Omar Gaither are out for the defense.  The Eagles are in another class though, and we would all like to see that more than any individual performance from numbers like 7 or 36.

Enrico says: Feel free to use this as a place to comment on both the Phillies and Eagles games tonight. With all due respect to the WFC, a game three against the Pirates may take second billing on this much anticipated night for the Eagles.

P.J. Carlesimo turns down Sixers' associate head coach job for 'family reasons'

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P.J. Carlesimo turns down Sixers' associate head coach job for 'family reasons'

Thirty-five years is more than enough time to get a sense of who a person is and how they do their job. That is how long Brett Brown has known P.J. Carlesimo, which made it easy for the Sixers' head coach to have interest in adding him to the staff. 

With Mike D’Antoni leaving to coach the Rockets, the Sixers had a vacancy at the associate head coach position. On Sunday, though, Carlesimo decided not to join the Sixers’ staff and remain a television analyst.

“He was a natural fit for me,” Brown said Monday following a pre-draft workout. “For family reasons, he just couldn’t do it. We talked a lot and it was an emotional thing from P.J.’s perspective. 

“P.J. is a very close friend of mine and he made that decision for family reasons and I understand it. The phone call really didn’t surprise me knowing what I know of him and how he views his family, having to travel across the country the whole time.”

Like D’Antoni, Carlesimo has a lengthy résumé on the NBA sidelines. He was a head coach for parts of nine seasons and worked five as an assistant coach. Brown called working with D’Antoni “a real learning experience,” and an ideal candidate would have similar experience to help both the staff and the young roster.

“That role will be filled with maybe that type of flavor,” Brown said. “I know this, we are still in a complete development mode. We still have a bunch of 20 year olds, guys that could be with us for a long time, but they’re not old, that we have to make sure that the city and me, we remember that. We still need people and teachers that can teach and coach and establish relationships. 

“So you tick boxes on relationships, teaching, development, those still rule the day. If you can do that with some veteran wisdom and some type of experiences like Mike’s, say, or P.J. had, well then you’re really knocking it out of the park.”

Coaching vacancies are coveted at this level. With the No. 1 pick in the draft, a revamped front office, and a 125,000-square foot training facility under construction, the Sixers have enhanced the appeal of the role. 

"My phone is very active, as you can imagine," Brown said. "I think it’s a highly attractive position. … Like our draft picks, I too spend a lot of time studying who will be the best fit for me and our program."

Tonight's Lineup: Ryan Howard (surprisingly) starts at 1B

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Tonight's Lineup: Ryan Howard (surprisingly) starts at 1B

So much for trimming Ryan Howard's playing time.

One day after Phillies manager Pete Mackanin said he plans on giving 24-year-old Tommy Joseph more starts against right-handed pitchers, Mackanin flipped the switch Monday.

Howard is penciled in as the starting first baseman for the Phils' series-opener against the Nationals on Monday night at Citizens Bank Park against Tanner Roark (3-4, 2.71).

After the Phillies were clobbered by the MLB-best Chicago Cubs on Sunday — and the weekend, really — Mackanin said the Phils have to get a longer look at Joseph.

"We brought up Joseph up here for a reason, to get a look at him," the manager said after the Phillies' 7-2 on Sunday afternoon (see story). "I can't let him stagnate on the bench like (Darin) Ruf ended up doing, so he's going to face some right-handed pitchers to keep his timing."

Joseph will have to wait another day to get in the lineup. To be fair, Joseph did face five righties last week, but three of those came with the designated hitter in play.

For Howard, however, the club icon is in a major rut that has had many outsiders calling for him to retire or for the team to release him. He's hitting .154 with eight home runs and 18 RBIs in 136 at-bats and is 6 for 62 (.097) with 25 strikeouts in May.

Here's the silver lining, however. Howard is a career .333 hitter in 12 at-bats against Roark, who he's taken deep once and has six RBIs against.

The Phillies turn to Jeremy Hellickson (4-3, 3.97) to snap their three-game skid. He's faced the Nationals twice this season, allowing six — five earned — runs over 10⅓ innings.

Here is the Phillies' full lineup:

Phillies
1. Odubel Herrera, CF
2. Freddy Galvis, SS
3. Maikel Franco, 3B
4. Ryan Howard, 1B
5. Carlos Ruiz, C
6. Cesar Hernandez, 2B
7. Tyler Goeddel, LF
8. Jeremy Hellickson, P
9. Peter Bourjos, RF

For more on tonight's game, check out Steven Tyding's game notes.

MLB Notes: Mets' manager Terry Collins worried David Wright might be headed for DL

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MLB Notes: Mets' manager Terry Collins worried David Wright might be headed for DL

NEW YORK -- Mets manager Terry Collins is worried David Wright may wind up on the disabled list because of a neck injury.

New York's captain and third baseman was out of the starting lineup for the third straight day Monday because of his neck. He was given anti-inflammatory medicine over the weekend.

Now 33, Wright was on the disabled list from April 15 to Aug. 24 last year when he strained his right hamstring and then developed spinal stenosis. He has a lengthy physical therapy routine he must go through before each game.

Wright homered in three straight games last week before getting hurt. He is batting .226 with seven homers, 14 RBIs and 55 strikeouts in 137 at-bats.

White Sox: Shuck called up with Jackson injured
NEW YORK -- With Austin Jackson bothered by turf toe, the Chicago White Sox recalled outfielder J.B. Shuck from Charlotte and optioned right-hander Tommy Kahnle to the Triple-A farm team.

Jackson left Sunday's game in the eighth inning because of his left foot.

White Sox manager Robin Ventura said before Monday's series opener against the New York Mets that he doesn't think Jackson's injury at this point merits a move to the disabled list. He adds that the team does not "necessarily want to lose him for two weeks right away."

Shuck was batting fifth and playing center field Monday. He was 0 for 9 with the White Sox before he was sent down April 18 when Chicago needed to add a pitcher. He is hitting .299 at Charlotte with two homers and 17 RBIs.

Kahnle is 0-1 with a 2.70 ERA in four games over three stints with Chicago this season.