Eagles Could Have Three Starters Back vs. NY Giants

Written By Bob Cunningham On Sunday, December 19, 2010

Justice missing this game could mean big problems.

Asante Samuel, who has missed three consecutive games with a sprained knee, Winston Justice, who has missed one game with a sprained knee, and DeSean Jackson, who suffered a foot injury in the Eagles' win over the Dallas Cowboys, have all been listed as questionable heading into Philly's biggest game of the season against the New York Giants.

Even though all three are officially questionable, Samuel and Jackson are expected to go. Justice, on the other hand, looks to have about a 40 percent shot at suiting up. It's more likely that King Dunlap, who took most of the starting reps, will protect Michael Vick's blind side.

The only positive for Justice possibly playing is the fact that he made the trip. That at least says that head coach Andy Reid is still keeping the option open -- something he wouldn't do if the prospects of Justice playing were any worse than about 40 percent.

Jackson appears the most likely to play, declaring himself healthy on Thursday. Samuel, on the other hand, remains a question mark. He will practice one day, sit out the next, say he's ready to go, and wind up missing a game.

There's no telling with him. Jackson is likely to play, Justice is not, and Samuel is going to be a last-minute, 11:29AMEST decision.

If Samuel is unable to go, Joselio Hanson will get the start for the fourth straight week. Hanson has been very up and down, but the secondary has found a way to make it work for the most part by platooning him and Trevard Lindley, as well as giving safety help over the top.

Jason Avant and Riley Cooper would see a lot more time if Jackson is sidelined, but that doesn't seem to be much of a concern.

Beating the Giants is going to be difficult enough, but doing it without all three of these guys is going to be damn near impossible. The Giants are a little banged up too, but they're healthier now than they were the first time when the Eagles barely beat them.

If even one or two of these guys can go, it should mean another close win for the Eagles. If I had to rank order of importance, I would say hope for Justice to play, then Samuel, then Jackson.

Hanson and the secondary showed last week they can handle their own and I have enough faith in the offense's other weapons (Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy specifically) that not having Jackson doesn't worry me all that much, even though they're obviously much better off having him on the field.

Justice, however, is the key guy here. Dunlap has played well and it's good to know they have him at least, but Justice is a guy who I think is very underrated. Let's not forget that he's been protecting Vick's blind side all season long. Teams have been rotating their best pass-rusher over him and he's handled himself very well.

And if there's one thing the Giants have, it's highly-talented pass-rushers.

Vick is getting sacked and hit a lot, but most of that comes up the middle and over the highly overrated Todd Herremans and Nick Cole/Max Jean-Gilles and not from Justice.

All inactives must be reported an hour and a half before kickoff, so we'll get a much better sense of how this game will play out come 11:30AMEST.

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