The Eagles likely will be without starting cornerback Lito Sheppard for a few weeks. Sheppard suffered what coach Andy Reid termed a "fairly significant" ankle sprain in Sunday's 24-10 win over the Houston Texans.
Reid said that the injury wasn't a high ankle sprain, which generally takes the longest to heal. He said it was to the inside of the ankle. He also said the injury wasn't to the same foot that Sheppard hurt last year. Sheppard missed the last six games of the '05 season with an ankle injury that required surgery to repair.
"Most likely, he won't play this week, and we'll just take it from there," Reid said.
Sheppard injured his ankle on the first series of the game against the Texans and was replaced by club's capable third corner, Rod Hood. Hood actually may be a better cover corner than Sheppard. So the loss will have little impact when they're in their base defense.
But with Hood starting, Joselio Hanson, who made the team as a free agent in training camp, now is the number three corner. With Sheppard expected to be out for several weeks, the Eagles will bring in a fourth corner, probably '04 draft pick Dexter Wynn, who was cut two weeks ago.
"With Rod, we felt we had three starting corners," Reid said. "We rotate him with Lito and Sheldon (Brown) in practice. He's got a chance to get in that starting role and play."
Asked if he expected teams to try to exploit his defense with a lot of
three-wide receiver sets now that Sheppard is out, Reid responded: "We're confident in Hanson. He went in and did a nice job yesterday. We're not worried about him. We feel confident with him."
With punt returner Reno Mahe also out with an ankle injury, Sheppard had been scheduled to return punts against Houston. After he got hurt, he was replaced by running back Brian Westbrook. While Westbrook is the Eagles' most dangerous return man, Reid is wary of overworking the undersized back. Including three punt returns Sunday, he finished with 24 touches.
"He didn't need all of those touches," Reid said.
There's a possibility, albeit remote, that Mahe will be able to play this week. If he can, he would handle the punt return chores. If he can't, the Eagles either will continue to use Westbrook, or have him rotate with Hood, who also has returned punts for the Eagles.