Eagles healing just in time, although Westbrook will sit vs. Giants

PHILADELPHIA -- As the Eagles enter the final quarter of their season, they couldn't be in better shape in more ways than one.

A win over the NFC East rival New York Giants on Sunday night would all but secure a playoff spot, and perhaps just as important, the team is getting healthier.

"Today was the first day everyone, with the exception of the guys on injured reserve, practiced," Eagles coach Andy Reid said Friday. "That's a real plus."

Everyone included running back Brian Westbrook, who's listed as out for Sunday's game but made it through a week of practice and is inching closer to a return.

Also practicing: wide receivers Jeremy Maclin (foot) and Kevin Curtis (knee), who are both listed as questionable to play against the Giants.

Reid said Maclin will play Sunday. Curtis will make the trip, and his status will be a game-time decision.

Wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who missed last weekend's game at Atlanta with a concussion, is listed as probable and also is expected to play against the Giants.

Westbrook will miss his fourth consecutive game after suffering his second concussion of the season. He has missed a total of six games this season because of concussions.

"He's feeling pretty good," Reid said. "You could see it in practice. Every time he touched the ball, he was sprinting. You could see him getting back into the swing of things."

Westbrook is using a new helmet with more cushioning to absorb the blows that a running back takes.

"It's big," Westbrook said. "But I'm getting used to it."

The Eagles have gotten used to not having their premier running back in the lineup, going 5-1 in the six games that Westbrook hasn't played. Still, having him back would be a boost to an offense that ranks 11th in the NFL.

"I have to hear from the doctors, trainers and, of course, Brian when he's ready to go," Reid said. "But he's feeling pretty good, and that's encouraging. There were no setbacks, and that's a good thing."

Westbrook said earlier this week that he wanted to return before the end of the season.

"My major thing is to continue to try and progress and get better every single day and see how things go from there," he said.

Curtis, who has been out since a Week 2 loss to the New Orleans Saints, will take the bus ride up to the Meadowlands and see if he can play.

"He's doing better than I thought," Reid said. "He says he's feeling good and is ready to go. So he'll travel. Whether he dresses or not, I don't know yet."

That could depend on the status of Maclin, a rookie who injured his foot last week and missed practice Wednesday and Thursday but was back on the field Friday.

"He should be fine," Reid said.

It's a critical game for the Eagles (8-4) and the Giants (7-5). The Eagles won the first meeting, so a win Sunday would give them a two-game lead over their rivals with three games to go -- plus they would hold the tiebreaker for sweeping the season series. If the Giants win, they will be no more than one game out of first place and could be tied if the Dallas Cowboys (8-4) also lose to the San Diego Chargers. The Giants already have won both of their meetings with the Cowboys.

"We're all fighting to stay alive at this point," Reid said. "This team enjoys playing together. They take coaching very well. Now we're in the final quarter, we'll see how we do here down the stretch."

Notes:Eagles LB Akeem Jordan, who has missed the previous four games with a knee injury, will play this week. He could see time in the middle with Will Witherspoon remaining on the weak side. "Akeem can play all three spots," Reid said. "So we'll see." Witherspoon added: "I'm preparing for everything." ... Nickel back Joselio Hanson also will be back after serving a four-game suspension for violation of the league's banned-substance policy. "He's in good shape," Reid said. "It looks like he's changing directions, planting and driving. All those things are there."

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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