Three Key Eagles Players Against Miami

L.J. Smith (Getty Images/Jonathan Daniel)

Warnest Contributor Andrew Pluta takes a look at three Eagles that have to play well on Sunday in order for Philly to get to a .500 record. Eagles tight end L.J. Smith is one player that has to shine, but who're the other two? Find out inside...

After a season-saving win last week, the Eagles get set to host the Miami Dolphins on Sunday with a big advantage on paper over their opponent. Miami is missing many key players due to injuries and at 0-9 on the year; they are a desperate team. Here is a look at three players who could have a big impact on the outcome of the game:

Juqua Thomas

After Jevon Kearse lost his spot as a starter earlier this week, Thomas was moved up on the depth chart with the first team defense. Although he's seen limited action this year, playing as a sub for most of the season, Thomas has shown that he has potential to be solid pass rushing end in Jim Johnson's scheme. On the year, he has 13 tackles and one fumble forced, and is second on the team in sacks with 4. Thomas will pair up with Trent Cole, who is tied for the NFC lead in sacks with 9, against a Dolphin's offensive that has allowed 17 sacks this season and will be starting rookie John Beck, who will play in his first regular season game in the NFL. On their line, Miami has 6-foot-6, 345-pound L.J. Shelton at right tackle and former Miami Hurricane Vernon Carey on the left side. The pressure that the Eagle's ends manage to get on Beck will make him have to throw on the move and will keep him from getting comfortable in the pocket.

L.J. Smith

Smith is finally getting close to full health after an injury caused him to sit out three games this year, and he showed it last week against the Redskins. Against Washington, Smith had a season high four catches for 49 yards and a touchdown. The fifth-year veteran out of Rutgers showed his ability to open up the middle of the field for the Eagle's offense last week and will be a reliable target for Donovan McNabb in the second half of the season. Smith was tied for the team lead in receptions in 2005 with 61, and he had 50 catches last year. He should be able to capitalize on the absence of Miami's all-pro middle linebacker Zach Thomas, who is sitting out Sunday's game due to an injury. Even though they will miss the 34-year old Thomas, the Dolphins have only allowed three touchdown receptions by tight ends this year.

Kevin Curtis

While Curtis has the fifth-most receiving yards in the NFC with 653, the Eagle's speedy wide receiver has not had a touchdown in the last four games. Outside of his three-touchdown game against Detroit in week three, Curtis has only scored in one other game. Even though he is not scoring touchdowns every game, the former St. Louis Ram has still been McNabb's favorite wide receiver, leading all others on the team at the position with 40 catches. Curtis is coming off a sub-par game against Washington where he only recorded three catches for 20 yards and will look to have a better performance against a Dolphin's pass defense that has allowed 15 touchdowns through the air this season. Philadelphia has the 11th rated pass offense this season, averaging 236.8 yards per game passing and the Eagles are tied with Tampa Bay for the fewest interceptions in the NFL with four.

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