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.

Instant Replay: Reds 5, Phillies 2

Instant Replay: Reds 5, Phillies 2

BOX SCORE

Aaron Nola struggled and the Phillies' offense slumbered in a 5-2 loss to the Cincinnati Reds on Friday night at Citizens Bank Park.

The Phillies had just one hit through eight innings and three overall in losing for the 21st time in the last 26 games. They scored both of their runs in the ninth inning.

Over their last six games, five of which have been losses, the Phillies have been held to three hits four times.

The Phillies have scored just nine runs in their last six games.

Nola came off the disabled list and pitched seven innings of one-run ball Sunday in Pittsburgh. He failed to build on that outing against a Cincinnati club that entered the game with nine losses in its previous 12 games.

Starting pitching report
Nola, who entered the game having given up just one home run in 23 innings this season, gave up a pair of long balls in the first two innings as the Reds jumped out to a 3-0 lead. In all, the right-hander gave up six hits and five runs over six innings.

Nola is 2-2 with a 4.34 ERA in five starts.

Cincinnati right-hander Tim Adleman's 20th big-league start was the best of his career. The right-hander pitched eight shutout innings and allowed just four baserunners on one hit, two walks and a hit batsman. He struck out four.

Adleman entered the game with a 6.19 ERA this season.

Bullpen report
Mark Leiter Jr. pitched two scoreless innings and struck out three for the Phillies.

Asher Wojciechowski lost the shutout in the ninth. Raisel Iglesias came on for the final two outs. He struck out Maikel Franco, the potential tying run, hacking wildly at a full-count breaking ball to end the game.

At the plate
Andres Blanco, the Phillies' No. 2 hitter, singled in the first inning. The Phillies did not have another hit until there was one out in the ninth.

Aaron Altherr doubled in the ninth to break up the Reds' shutout bid.

Odubel Herrera batted leadoff and ran his slump to 0 for 13 before doubling in the ninth. He hit a ball hard earlier in the game, too, but Cincinnati leftfielder Adam Duvall made a nice diving catch.

For Cincinnati, Duvall and Scott Schebler took Nola deep. Jose Peraza had a two-run single against Nola in the sixth inning. He has a 12-game hitting streak.

In the field
Cincinnati catcher Devin Mesoraco made a terrific play in starting a 2-4-3 double play to end the seventh inning.

Minor matters
Second base prospect Jesmuel Valentin had season-ending surgery on his left shoulder in Philadelphia on Friday. Valentin, who was playing at Triple A Lehigh Valley, is looking at a recovery time of four to five months. He should be ready to play winter ball in his native Puerto Rico. Valentin went down to the final days of camp in a bid to make the Phillies' opening day roster in spring training (see story).

Up next
The series continues in a 4:05 p.m. start Saturday. Jerad Eickhoff (0-5, 4.70) pitches against Bronson Arroyo (3-4, 6.75).

NHL Notes: Predators' P.K. Subban rides whirlwind to Stanley Cup Final

NHL Notes: Predators' P.K. Subban rides whirlwind to Stanley Cup Final

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- It has been an extraordinary 11 months for P.K. Subban.

The defenseman moved from the Eastern Conference to the Western Conference. Left his native Canada to live in the American South. Blended in with new teammates, created a new home and learned a new system of money, too.

Oh, and along the way the former star for the Montreal Canadiens played a key role in Nashville's stirring run to the Stanley Cup Final.

The best way to sum up Subban's approach? C'est la vie.

"I just tried to have the right attitude when change comes my way," Subban said. "I think when you have an open mind, an open mind is like a gold mine. You just have an open mind, you can only go up from there regardless of what comes your way and just always try to approach things in a positive way."

The Canadiens and Predators shocked the NHL last June 29 when Nashville swapped captain Shea Weber for Subban in a rare one-for-one trade of All-Star defensemen. Adding Subban's offensive skills immediately made the Predators a popular pick to be right where they are now as the Western Conference champions.

The stylish Subban has as much flair on the ice with his goal celebrations as off with his hats and stylish suits. The Predators and their fans have embraced all of it.

"When it happened, I came in here with the right attitude and just wanted to be a part of this team and do whatever I can do to help a team win," Subban said (see full story).

Penguins: Team rides maturity, resilience back to Cup Final
PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Chris Kunitz stood shoulder to shoulder at center ice as midnight approached, crowd on its feet, Prince of Wales Trophy in hand. Another shot at the Stanley Cup in the offing.

On the surface, it could have been a scene ripped from 2008 when the longtime Pittsburgh Penguin teammates earned their first crack at a championship together, the one that was supposed to be the launching pad for a dynasty.

A closer look at the weary, grateful smiles told a different story.

This team has learned over the last decade that nothing can be taken for granted. Not their individual greatness or postseason success, even for one of the NHL's marquee franchises. Not the cohesion it takes to survive the crucible of the most draining championship chase in professional team sports or the mental toughness (along with a dash of luck) needed to stay on top once you get there.

So Crosby paused in the giddy aftermath of Pittsburgh's 3-2 victory over Ottawa in Game 7 of the helter-skelter Eastern Conference finals to do something the two-time Hart Trophy winner almost never does. He took stock of the moment, aware of how fleeting they can be.

"Every series you look at, the margin for error is so slim," Crosby said. "We've just continued to find ways and different guys have stepped up. We trust in that and we believe in that and whoever has come in the lineup has done a great job. That builds confidence. We've done it different ways, which is probably our biggest strength" (see full story).