|by Ryan Messick
Eagles cornerback Asante Samuel was unable to practice today after being limited yesterday with a knee sprain, and “might be 50-50,” to play on Sunday night in Dallas according to one teammate.
Samuel originally injured his knee in the 27-17 win over the Giants on November 21, and has missed the two games since.
Head coach Andy Reid was not scheduled to speak to the media today, but it appears that Samuel suffered a setback, as Reid was optimistic yesterday. “I think they’re ready to go; we’ll see,” Reid said when asked about Samuel and defensive end Juqua Parker. “They feel good and we’ll just see how they do in practice.”
Samuel is a huge part of the Eagles defense, which leads the league in interceptions but has just one in the last two games. Samuel also still leads the league with seven picks this year. With Samuel in the lineup, the Eagles give up 198 passing yards,1.7 touchdowns and 10.2 first downs through the air per game, while grabbing 1.9 picks per contest. In three games without him, they’ve allowed an average of 297 passing yards, 3 touchdowns and 16 first downs while averaging just one interception.
Opponents quarterback ratings without Samuel in the lineup are 112.02; with him they’re 65.24.
“That was huge,” said defensive coordinator Sean McDermott said of Samuel’s absence. “He’s a very good player, very good player – a Pro Bowl corner. With Asante, though, comes that leadership, that veteran leadership, that experience.
“When things get out of kilter as they do in the ups and downs of a game, having a veteran player at that corner certainly helps to nail things down.”
If Samuel can’t go again this week, Joselio Hanson will start in his place for the third straight game.
“I’m going to prepare like I always do, like I’m going to start, so I can make some plays and help this team win,” Hanson said. “That’s all that matters is getting a win right now.”
Hanson said he doesn’t know yet whether or not he’ll be starting.
“No, but I took all of the reps this week and hopefully if Asante doesn’t play I’ll be able to step up,” said Hanson.
Offensive tackle Winston Justice and cornerback Asante Samuel both missed practice with knee injuries. Quarterback Michael Vick (quadriceps), defensive end Juqua Parker (hip), wide receiver Riley Cooper (knee), guard Nick Cole (knee) and cornerback Jorrick Calvin (back) were listed as having full participation.
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