Post-concussion symptoms will keep Eagles WR Jackson sidelined

PHILADELPHIA -- Wide receiver DeSean Jackson and three other Eagles players have been ruled out of Sunday's game against the Atlanta Falcons.

Jackson, who leads the Eagles with eight touchdowns this season, suffered a concussion during last weekend's victory over the Washington Redskins.

"He felt pretty good today, but he's not all the way back yet," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "He still has some normal headaches. He's just not ready yet."

Jackson, wide receiver Kevin Curtis (knee), running back Brian Westbrook (concussion) and linebacker Akeem Jordan (knee) were ruled out by Reid after Friday's practice. Curtis has been out since the second week of the season.

Tight end Brent Celek, who suffered a sprained thumb last weekend, practiced this week. Reid said Celek should play.

Westbrook will miss his third consecutive game since suffering his second concussion of the season. The running back has missed six games total.

Westbrook visited doctors in Pittsburgh this week, and the news was somewhat encouraging. Still, he remains out indefinitely.

"(Trainer) Rick (Burkholder) has been in contact with the doctors in Pittsburgh," Reid said. "We'll see what happens next week. He's been feeling better, and that's a plus."

Jordan is out for the fourth week in a row. The starting weakside linebacker returned to practice on a limited basis Wednesday and Thursday, but he wasn't on the field Friday.

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"He's just not quite ready," Reid said. "He had a little bit of swelling there, so we backed off a bit."

Will Witherspoon remains the weakside starter, and second-year pro Joe Mays is expected to make his second start at middle linebacker.

Jackson's loss also will be felt in the return game.

Jason Avant, who made two huge catches against the Redskins, including a 46-yarder during a game-tying drive in the fourth quarter, is expected to start opposite rookie Jeremy Maclin at wide receiver.

Seldom-used Reggie Brown, who has just three receptions this year, will be the third receiver.

Maclin also will replace Jackson as the team's primary punt returner. Jackson has averaged 15.5 yards on 21 returns this season, while Maclin has lost four yards on three returns.

"It's important when someone goes down for the next person to step up and play well," Reid said. "That's always been the case."

After Jackson went down last weekend, Maclin came up big on the Eagles' game-winning drive against the Redskins, making two catches that led to David Akers' field goal. Maclin is ready to do so again against the Falcons.

"Chances are the ball will come my way more, obviously," the first-round draft pick said. "When the opportunity arises you have to seize the moment. In the NFL, careers are short. You have to go for it while you can."

The Eagles (7-4) are one game behind the Dallas Cowboys in the NFC East. The Falcons (6-5) are five games behind the 11-0 New Orleans Saints -- who can clinch the NFC South this week -- but they are in the thick of things for a wild-card berth.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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