PHILADELPHIA – The fate of the Eagles offensive line this season might be summed up the way the whole team has been so far.
From bad to worse.
Right tackle Todd Herremans was placed on the season-ending injured reserve list on Wednesday as Philadelphia's season to forget continues. Herremans suffered a dislocated bone and ligament damage in his right foot in Monday's loss to New Orleans. He should be ready for training camp, but the injury is the latest blow to a depleted offensive line. Herremans will wear a boot for at least eight weeks.
Philadelphia's makeshift line is now without Herremans, left tackle Jason Peters, center Jason Kelce and right guard Danny Watkins. It's one reason quarterback Michael Vick was sacked seven times by the Saints. Left guard Evan Mathis is the lone starter left standing.
"I've just got to believe in the guys in front of me and do whatever it takes to get the ball out whether I've got to slide or move, break contain. Regardless, I just have to continue to maintain trust in them," Vick said. "That's part of my job as a quarterback and I have to keep believing. Keep believing."
It's getting tougher to do, though.
The Eagles have lost four in a row after a 3-1 start. When they defeated the New York Giants, 19-17, on Sept. 30 at home, they were in first place. Now, they are 2½ games behind New York in the NFC East.
"Stay optimistic," Vick said. "Just keep playing the game and try to block out everything else."
The Eagles (3-5) host the Cowboys (3-5) on Sunday.
Rookie guard Dennis Kelly, a fifth-round draft pick out of Purdue, has filled in the last two games for Watkins, and knows some sort of continuity is going to be needed for the Eagles to hold off Dallas. Signed after Peters went down, Demetress Bell has had a rough go of it in Philadelphia, as well.
"They brought a lot of pressure and I think it led to us having a lot of miscommunication," Kelly said of the Saints. "There was confusion on who was getting who. That's where we have to build that rhythm, get that continuity that I was saying, and just have the trust in each other to know that we're going to know the assignment before we have to call it out."
Confusion eight games into the season is never a good sign. Especially for a team with Super Bowl aspirations. No wonder the Eagles can all but count themselves out of a second-half run at a playoff spot if they lose to Dallas.
The Cowboys, of course, are struggling themselves. In fact, this game — in the summer when training camps opened — figured to be a spotlighted showdown in the NFC East. Instead, it's a last-gasp bid to salvage a season while the defending division-champion Giants continue to own top billing.
The Eagles have tried it all from changing position coaches, players, holding team meetings, everything, to try and get back on track. Nothing's worked yet.
"We've got to find a way to win a football game," Vick said. "We miss that feeling of winning and it's been a long time since we've had one, so it's important to come out this week, have a great week of practice, a great week of preparation and get ready to play a good football game."
With the line so shaky, it's no wonder the Eagles haven't leaned as much on running LeSean McCoy, a gamebreaker who has been all but invisible inside the red zone. McCoy, who missed practice Wednesday because of an illness, has only two rushing touchdowns this season a year after setting franchise records with 17 touchdowns rushing, and 20 total scores, while earning All-Pro and Pro Bowl honors.
Who can run, though, when there's nowhere to go?
Philadelphia's four-game losing streak matches the longest in coach Andy Reid's 14 seasons, one reason his return for 2013 is in serious doubt. Without a sturdy line the rest of the way, that big second-half turnaround the Eagles are counting on might not come.
NOTES: The Eagles promoted G Julian Vandervelde from the practice squad to the active roster and re-signed DT Frank Trotter to the practice squad. ... Philadelphia is 2-2 at home this season, and 1-0 in the division.
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