By Kevin McGuire
The Philadelphia Eagles will need its defensive secondary to be on their toes this weekend with Drew Brees leading the New Orleans Saints into town with a monster of a passing offense. Fortunately for the Eagles, the defensive backfield is getting healthier in time for the playoffs.
Safety Colt Anderson (knee) took part in full practices this week after sitting out all last week during practice and for the final game of the season. He should be available to play, although his role will likely be more on special teams instead of in the secondary. Anderson can step in for some defensive plays if needed and showing good mobility, but it is more likely he will be a contributor on special teams for now.
In addition, safety Earl Wolff (knee) returned to practice on Thursday as a full participant for the team walk-through. He continues to work his way back to full strength. Wolff was a full practice participant all last week and was listed as questionable for the Cowboys game. The Eagles held him out of practice on Wednesday, but it appears he will be used as the back-up to Nate Allen this weekend.
The defensive hero for the NFC East clinching game against Dallas, Brandon Boykin is playing through a hip injury, but was available for full practices this week. Boykin came up with the late interception that helped the Eagles put a stamp on the Sunday night victory. Boykin is not technically a starter, but he sees plenty of playing time on the defense and has shown some good promise this season.
Linebacker Mychal Kendricks, who has come on very strong on the stretch this season, is listed with a knee injury. This is the same injury that has been nagging him for the last two weeks. To this point it has not kept Kendricks out of a full practice and he has been listed as probable each of the past two weeks. This should not be much of a concern for the Eagles, who have seen Kendricks become a true defensive force in the middle of the 3-4 defense.
Center Julian Vandervelde was the only player on the roster to not participate in the team’s walk-through on Thursday. Vandervelde was unavailable for practice on Wednesday as well while nursing a back injury that kept him out of the regular season finale against Dallas last week. Vandervelde has not practiced with the team since Week 16. As long as starting center Jason Kelce remains healthy, the Eagles should be OK on the offensive line. If Kelce happens to get banged up though, the team will have to do some shuffling on the line. One option would be to move a starter in to the middle and fill in a reserve linemen on the line where needed.
Wide receiver Jason Avant is listed with a shoulder injury, but he took part in full practices this week. Avant was not listed on the injury report last week so this shoulder injury is relatively new. Still, it does not appear to be enough of a concern for the offense heading in to the postseason.
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Kevin McGuire is a Philadelphia area sports writer covering the Philadelphia Eagles and college football. McGuire is a member of the FWAA and National Football Foundation. Follow McGuire on Twitter @KevinOnCFB. His work can be found on Examiner.com.