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Eagles' Andrews returns to practice for first time since Day 1 of camp

PHILADELPHIA -- Shawn Andrews practiced for the first time since reinjuring his surgically repaired back and hopes to play the season opener against Carolina on Sept. 13.

The two-time Pro Bowl offensive lineman for the Eagles took part in an abbreviated practice Saturday at the team's NovaCare Complex.

"It was a big step," said Andrews, who has not practiced since training camp opened for veterans on July 30. "It felt good. Of course it wasn't with pads, but I still got the feel of the pass rush. So we're getting there."

Andrews ran with the scout team, going against the Eagles' No. 1 defense. He's still hoping to get back his starting right tackle job, a spot currently held by Winston Justice.

"We're taking it nice and easy with him," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "He made it through this morning. So we're just going to go day to day with him."

Andrews had been penciled in as the team's starting right tackle after playing right guard his first five years in the league. He had back surgery last year and has been out since the first day of training camp when he reinjured his back during a running drill.

Reid would not say whether Andrews would play in Thursday night's final preseason game against the New York Jets, let alone the opener in Carolina.

"I want to see how he does this week," Reid said. "That's what I'm set on right now. I just want to see how he progresses. Again, we are talking about Shawn's back here and I want to make sure we handle it the right way."

This is the second straight year Andrews has missed training camp. Last year he battled through depression, but started the opener before getting hurt the second game of the season.

He has heard some outside the organization question his injury and his will to play again.

"First of all, coach Reid has gone above and beyond for me," Andrews said. "I wouldn't waste my time or his time if I didn't want to play football. I owe him and I owe my teammates to get back and play the way I can."

Saturday was that first step. Sunday when the team goes back to full pads will be the next.

"We'll just ease him into it," Reid said. "See how he does. I don't know exactly where he is at football wise right now because he hasn't been able to do it. We'll just take small steps here and there and ease him back in and see how he feels."

NOTES: Left guard Todd Herremans had surgery on a stress fracture in his left foot. There is no timetable for his return. ... Backup tight end Tony Curtis, signed last week, practiced with the team for the first time yesterday. Curtis, battling an ankle injury, has an excellent chance to make the team as Brent Celek's backup.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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