With Friday night dispelling most of the angst I had concerning Donovan's knee, I thought it would be appropriate to look at some other players who are filling in for star Eagles players currently "on the shelf"
Quintin Mikell - None bigger here folks. Little "Q" is filling in for my all-time favorite Eagle - Brian Dawkins. Our All-Pro safety is experiencing some Achilles tendinitis and I'll be damned if that doesn't concern me some. Concern NOT worry. I am not declaring his career over. Personally I would like to see him able to suit up and get in a little bit of action, just to get in a some live game prior to the start of the season. But if he can't....Well look, I don't want to start thinking about life after "#20" just yet, alright...With that out of the way - I think the Eagles' F.O. decision to retain the services of Quintin Mikell could pay off this season. Q has done well. True, its not the same, but as Bob Brookover writes - Mikell, entering his fifth season, is a player whose stock has steadily risen with the Eagles. Not only has he emerged as the most valuable player on the special teams; he also has become valuable enough that defensive coordinator Jim Johnson will create packages to get the safety on the field this season. Mikell will likely play the same hybrid linebacker role safety Michael Lewis had in passing situations last season.
Juqua Thomas - Filling in for Jevon Kearse, Juqua Thomas had himself a heckuva game the other night. Kearse's absence may have been merely precautionary (and I believe it was), but the man is still coming off a serious knee injury. Setbacks are a way-of-life with those sorts of things, but I couldn't help but notice - Juqua brought the same motor he had last year - it looks like he going to try and make it hard for J.J. to keep him off the field. He probably won't start, but a more-than-solid year might make a fellow, pricier vet like Darren Howard or Kearse expendable in 2008.
Brent Celek - Who knows how long L.J. will be hampered by this nagging "sports hernia" thing. I hope its not very, but I have to say this - I am very encouraged by the play of rookie TE Brent Celek. I mean this dude has some skills. He's caught almost everything thrown his way (something with which L.J. still shows occasional signs of trouble) and has been able to hit some deeper passes over the middle (talking 16-20 yard range). Will this team be better offensively with L.J. - no doubt. Will we be even more dangerous lining up Celek a few times and zapping unwary defenses - hell yeah.
Max Jean-Gilles - I saved the worst for last. We fans simply do not know what exactly is wrong with All-Pro Guard Shawn Andrews. He gave a very cryptic response the other day, with has led to a slew of worrying about whether or not Andrews availability for the 2007 season (and beyond) is in doubt. Big Red says he expects Andrews back to start the season. I hope so. Max Jean is a big boy in his own right - but the Eagles line has NOT run-blocked well this preseason. And at some point, we are going to need to run the ball. For a variety of well-documented reasons: protect McNabb's knee/health by not passing so much, protect McNabb's knee/health by not passing so much, and protect McNabb's knee/health by not passing so much. Perhaps, more importantly, the Eagles surge last year was led by Brian Westbrook and a renewed emphasis on offensive BALANCE. To keep that going, we need to run....These preseason games have shown we can pass, I'd like to see us show we can run. This is the question mark - if Andrews misses more time than any of us would like - can Jean-Gilles step up. Will it be Scott Young?? We fans have lauded the Eagles O-line for its depth...so far the run-game results have not been encouraging. Hmmmm, come back soon Shawn.
Now I think we'd all agree: Philly fans would/are going to be a LOT more positive about the Eagles' prospects for 2007 once we have Andres, Dawk, Kearse and L.J. back on the field, but I have to give the front office credit - we made the right moves to assure the team has the depth not to collapse without them.