|Andrews and Smith could be ready for Philly's opener|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 04 September 2007 10:40|
The status of his top blocker and safety-valve receiver isn't so clear going into the Philadelphia Eagles' season opener at Green Bay on Sunday.
All-Pro guard Shawn Andrews and tight end L.J. Smith missed the entire preseason, but took part in a light practice Monday. The real test comes when they wear full pads Wednesday and Thursday. If both players return, it'll be a big boost for the offense.
Andrews sustained a high ankle sprain last month and the severity of his injury was subject for much speculation after he told reporters that a specialist's prognosis was a ``tear-jerker.'' But Andrews finally backed off that comment, saying he knew he would play in the opener all along. Coach Andy Reid insisted throughout camp Andrews would be fine.
Third-year pro Scott Young and second-year guys Nick Cole and Max-Jean Gilles filled in for Andrews during his absence. Andrews, a first-round pick in 2004, is an integral part of an offensive line that was solid last season. The Eagles started the same five linemen every game.
Smith had surgery for a sports hernia in the offseason, then injured his groin early in camp. He was slightly less optimistic about the opener than Andrews, and is waiting to see how he feels after he practices this week.
Without Smith, rookie tight end Brent Celek, a fifth-round pick, led the team with 13 receptions for 143 yards in the preseason. Veteran Matt Schobel had five catches for 103 yards.
It's an important season for Smith, who enters the final year of a contract. He caught 50 passes for 611 yards and five touchdowns last year.
Philadelphia has the potential for a dynamic offense. McNabb, who tore a knee ligament in Week 11 last year, looked sharp in two exhibition games. Running back Brian Westbrook is coming off his best season, proving he can handle a bigger workload. Wide receiver Reggie Brown could be set for a breakout year in his third season with the Eagles, and Kevin Curtis fills the void created by Donte' Stallworth's departure to New England.
Getting Andrews and Smith back in the lineup will be key to the offense's success.