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Eagles' Wrs Brown, Curtis eager to return


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Posted on Tue, Oct. 21, 2008

Eagles' Brown, Curtis eager to return

By Ray Parrillo

Inquirer Staff Writer

Reggie Brown said there are plenty of footballs to go around, but at last check, the rules still prohibit the use of more than one at a time during a game.

Kevin Curtis said the more receivers the Eagles have, the better. Yet, when it comes time for the coaching staff to dole out playing time, who will get what?

It's likely that Curtis and Brown, the Eagles' top two wide receivers last year, will be on the field together for the first time this season when the Birds, fresh off their bye week, resume play Sunday against Atlanta at Lincoln Financial Field.

Curtis, who had 77 catches and led the Eagles with 1,110 yards receiving, had hernia surgery Aug. 21 and has yet to play. Brown missed the first two games with a pulled hamstring, showed signs of making an impact when he returned, and then sat out the last game before the bye in San Francisco after suffering a groin injury during a midweek practice.

The Eagles were forced to open the season without them, which prompted the team to accelerate the development of rookie DeSean Jackson, who took advantage of his opportunity and has become their top receiver with the kind of game-breaking speed the Eagles desperately need.

Meantime, Hank Baskett, Jason Avant and Greg Lewis have chipped in to help in various degrees. Baskett's height makes him an inviting red-zone target, and perhaps the touchdown he scored on a fade route in the win over the 49ers will encourage coach Andy Reid to dial up the fade a few more times. For inexplicable reasons, the Eagles have been reluctant to use fade patterns.

Avant has been a reliable third-down receiver. Lewis is averaging 14.9 yards on 14 catches.

"There are enough balls to go around," Brown said yesterday after the Eagles went through a light practice. "We have a lot of great players, and there's no need to have a great player not contributing to the team. The ideal is to have everyone involved. It's a team effort, not just a couple people here, a couple people there. I'm sure we'll be a lot better off if we try to get everyone involved who can make plays and help the team win."

It doesn't seem likely that Jackson will lose his starting job with the return of Curtis and Brown. The second-round draft pick has made some rookie blunders, like flipping the football to the turf before he crossed the goal line and messing up some routes, but he stretches the field with his speed. Jackson has more than 25 percent of the team's receiving yards.

If Curtis and Brown are at full strength, it does seem likely that Avant and Lewis will get fewer snaps among the six wideouts.

"It's a good situation. It's a good problem to have," Curtis said. "With me and Reggie down, everyone's played great. DeSean, Greg, Hank and Jason have all made big plays, and we're just glad to be on board. I think the more people you've got will make the situation better. It's a good thing."

Curtis went with the team to San Francisco after Reid announced he was ready to play. But with the bye week approaching, Curtis was told he would not play unless absolutely necessary. He said he's ready to go at full speed, but after such a long layoff, it remains to be seen whether or not he will need some time to adjust to the tempo of a game.

"Obviously, you can't substitute [practice] for playing in a game," he said. "But I've been around a few years, and I hope to make as few mistakes as possible when I go out there. . . . I feel real confident in it. There's no holding back. I feel good.

"I would have liked to have been out there a long time ago. Now I feel like I'm in a position where I'm ready to go. I feel like I've done what I need to do on my end. I'm expecting to go out there and do my job, do what I'm supposed to do."

Brown returned from his hamstring injury against Pittsburgh and didn't have a catch. He later said he didn't have his bearings until the next game. He had six catches for 79 yards against Chicago, then four for 84 yards the next week against Washington before he was set back by the groin injury.

"It's been really frustrating. I'm kind of getting sick of it," he said. "It's kind of disappointing, but I have to stay positive. I'm just trying to figure out a way to keep my muscles healthy."

Brown stopped short of saying he expected to be ready for the Falcons game, but said he "felt pretty good" at yesterday's practice.

"I stayed up here during the off week getting treatments, trying to get better," he said.

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