Hot Topic and Player Notes

Hot Topic and Player Notes

Defensive tackle Darwin Walker returned to practice Monday and is hopeful that he'll be able to play Sunday against the San Diego Chargers. Walker, the club's starting right tackle, had missed the last three games with a thigh injury. Without him, the Eagles were unable to get much inside pass-rush push.

They failed to get a single sack in their pre-bye week 33-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, and have just 11 in five games this season. Last year through five games, they had 20.

"When you're outside looking in, you think every bad play you could have made a difference," Walker said. "It hurts when the team is losing and there's nothing I can do about it. All I can do is try to be a difference-maker when I get back."

Rookie Mike Patterson, the club's first-round draft choice, has been starting in Walker's absence, alongside left tackle Hollis Thomas. With Walker back, the Eagles will return to a four-man tackle rotation that also will include third-year man Sam Rayburn.

PLAYER NOTES

--QB Donovan McNabb needs to play much better than he did in the Eagles' last game, a 33-10 loss to Dallas. McNabb, who is playing with a sports hernia, was off-target with many of his throws. It's not known how much the injury is affecting his accuracy.

--QB Mike McMahon, the club's No. 3 quarterback, who had exploratory arthroscopic surgery on his knee almost two weeks ago, apparently will be able to dress for Sunday's game against San Diego. The Eagles haven't released an update on his condition, but they haven't signed another quarterback.

--RB Brian Westbrook continues to be frustrated by the lack of progress toward a new long-term contract. Westbrook can become a free agent after the season, though the Eagles may use the franchise-player tag on him if he hasn't agreed to a new deal by then.

--RB Lamar Gordon has familiarized himself with the Eagles' offense, but isn't getting much of an opportunity to carry the football. The Eagles are averaging a league-low 17 rushing attempts per game, and most of those go to Brian Westbrook.

--WR Terrell Owens has 100-plus receiving yards in three of his first five games. With 565 receiving yards, he's on pace to shatter the Eagles' franchise record for receiving yards in a season.

--WR Greg Lewis continues to take advantage of all of the coverage attention that Terrell Owens and Brian Westbrook are receiving. He's caught at least three passes in every game this season.

--TE L.J. Smith appears to have recovered from the low ankle sprain he suffered against Dallas two weeks ago. Smith had just two receptions against the Cowboys.

--TE Stephen Spach is getting a lot of playing time as the Eagles have used a lot of two-tight end formations to provide extra protection for injured quarterback Donovan McNabb.

--DT Darwin Walker is expected to play for the first time in a month Sunday. Walker has been sidelined with a thigh injury. His return should help a pass rush that has just 11 sacks in five games.

--DE Trent Cole is expected to return Sunday after missing the Dallas game with an ankle injury. Cole will rotate on at RE with starter N.D. Kalu.

--LB Zeke Moreno, who was signed last week to bolster the Eagles' struggling special teams, is expected to play Sunday against San Diego.

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