PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Eagles deactivated three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jevon Kearse for Sunday's game against the Miami Dolphins.
One of the most feared pass rushers in the NFL early in his career, Kearse has been slowed by injuries in recent seasons. His ineffective performance this season has led to reduced playing time and finally landed him on the sideline, despite his big salary.
Kearse is earning $5.2 million in the fourth year of a $66 million, eight-year contract he signed in 2004. Juqua Thomas will replace Kearse in the starting lineup, with rookie second-round pick Victor Abiamiri as his backup.
Kearse was off to the best start of his career last season, recording 3.5 sacks in the first two games. But he sprained multiple ligaments in his left knee during Philadelphia's overtime loss to the New York Giants in Week 2.
His injury initially was thought to be career-threatening, but the damage turned out to be less severe. Kearse returned in excellent shape, but clearly has lost a step. He has 3.5 sacks in nine games. Thomas has 4 sacks and more quarterback hurries in less playing time.
Coach Andy Reid indicated Friday that Kearse would sit out to rest his knee and return later in the season.
"He's a warrior," Reid said. "I have the utmost respect for the guy. If the leg's bothering him, he doesn't say much. We're just going to back off a little bit and let that thing get back and ready to go. It doesn't hurt to take a step back to go forward."
A first-round pick by Tennessee in 1999, Kearse quickly established himself as one of the NFL's premier sack artists and earned the nickname: "The Freak." He had 36 sacks and went to the Pro Bowl in his first three seasons, twice earning All-Pro honors.
The 31-year-old Kearse joined the Eagles after two injury-plagued with the Titans, and helped Philadelphia reach the Super Bowl in his first season.
Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press