If you are looking forward to seeing Michael Vick on Thursday night against the Indianapolis Colts, bad news—he, along with eight other starters are not traveling to Indianapolis.
After the scary number of injuries that have plagued the Eagles, head coach Andy Reid is not going to take any risks for the second preseason game. On the offensive side of the ball, the following players will stay in Philadelphia and watch the game from their couches: RB Brian Westbrook (ankle), QB Kevin Kolb (knee), G Todd Herremans (stress fracture in foot), T Jason Peters (quad spasms), T Shawn Andrews (back) and G Stacy Andrews (knee). Vick will not travel because of Reid’s personal policy.
Let’s take a deeper look at this. Well first off, it’s hard to overlook the gaping hole in the offensive line. The four lineman not traveling are projected to be four of the five starters at their respective positions. Not exactly the way you want to get guys comfortable playing together. Further, two of the best defensemen in the game—Dwight Freeney and Robert Mathis –will go head-to-head with inexperienced linemen Winston Justice and King Dunlap.
I am extremely worried about the offensive line because there are still so many questions to be answered. I understand that Reid is being cautious with injuries, but it’s not worth opening up more of a possibility for McNabb or McCoy to get injured. Reid mentioned that he expects the first team to play the entire first half on Thursday. Even though Freeney and Mathis will not play much, there is still enough time for them to take advantage of the youthful linemen and cause some damage.
As I have mentioned several times, one of my main concerns with the Eagles offense is in lineman Shawn Andrews. It was reported earlier today that Andrews has no structural damage in his lower back, but the questions remains if Andrews is mentally stable enough to play in 2009. The back injury happened in the first week of training camp and he still has not been seen on the field. Many have questioned his desire to play and whether or not he is willing to put forth the effort to be a top-notch offensive lineman. He responded to those accusations by claiming he was not crazy. Time will tell, but I am still very pessimistic about his return.
On the defensive side of the ball, Philadelphia will be without five more impact players—DE Trent Cole (shoulder), DE Darren Howard (groin), Omar Gaither (knee), Sheldon Brown (ribs), and DE Bryan Smith (concussion).
Even though there may not be as many injured members on the defense, there is still just as much damage to the team chemistry. With both starting defensive ends (Cole and Howard) out, the defensive line is going to have to be careful and injury-free. Normally, Howard and Cole would play in more than a quarter on Thursday night, but the second stringers are going to have to carry double the load in the second preseason game. Both Gaither and Brown’s injuries are not very serious, so there is not as much concern for finding players to fill the void against the Colts.
The game on Thursday is set for 8 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium on FOX.