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.