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  1. #1
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    [Eagles] A Grief Interlude

    By Shannon Ryan

    Inquirer Staff Writer


    Like the rest of the city, Terrell Owens' teammates know he was brought to Philadelphia to help the Eagles reach the Super Bowl.

    Now it looks as if they are going to have to do it without him.

    Owens likely will miss the rest of the season, with only a sliver of hope of returning from an ankle sprain, joint damage, and a leg fracture in time for the Super Bowl - that is, if the Eagles can make it that far without their star wide receiver.

    His teammates said they were disappointed but determined, and knew they would have to pick up the slack.

    "I feel for Terrell," quarterback Donovan McNabb said in a statement. "He's worked hard. We've all worked hard to try and bring a championship to Philadelphia. I know he will do everything he possibly can to get better and be a part of what we want to accomplish."

    "In any event, we have to move forward," McNabb said. "We have a number of weapons on offense and we all just need to go out and make plays."

    Linebacker Ike Reese said the Eagles would look to "do it collectively."

    "We can't hang our heads," Reese said. "There will be some guys, some young receivers, who will have to step up."

    Everything can't be put on McNabb's shoulders, Reese added.

    Owens will undergo surgery tomorrow. He was in Baltimore seeing an ankle specialist yesterday for testing, which revealed the extent of his injuries.

    Afterward, Owens talked on the phone to many teammates, including wide receivers Freddie Mitchell and Todd Pinkston, free safety Brian Dawkins, and McNabb.

    "I just wanted to let those guys know that I'm behind them," Owens said yesterday afternoon. "I'm going to be their biggest cheerleader."

    Since arriving in Philadelphia this year, Owens has been an offensive spark, deemed the missing ingredient for a team that has lost the last three NFC championship games.

    Reese said he was looking forward to seeing Owens perform on the big stage of the playoffs, for which the Eagles have secured the home-field advantage and a first-round bye.

    "I knew in the postseason he would go to another level," Reese said. "I know he was brought here to bring our playing in the postseason to another level."

    The Eagles have dealt with end-of-season injuries to key players in the past.

    Last year, it was running back Brian Westbrook.

    If there is a bright spot, offensive tackle Tra Thomas said, it is that the Eagles have been through this drill before.

    "We just have to keep working," he said. "Everyone has to step up when a key person goes down."

    More than being worried about what damage the injuries would do to the team, Reese said he had sympathy for Owens.

    "He came here with a lot of scrutiny and criticism," Reese said. "He really wanted to come through for the city and the team. It's more of a sense that this guy has put in a lot of hard work. It's disappointing that his season has to come to an end like this."

    Owens said his injuries would open up opportunities for other players. Mitchell, Greg Lewis and Billy McMullen are being considered as replacements, coach Andy Reid said, to start opposite Pinkston.

    "They'll be fine," Owens said. "I just want to let those guys know that, hey, it doesn't stop with me. There's no reason for everybody to get down. There's no reason for the city of Philadelphia to get down. We have the guys to get it done, and I truly believe that."

    Tight end Chad Lewis called news of T.O.'s injuries "really disappointing."

    "I know he had a high tolerance for pain," he said. "I hoped he would be back. I talked to him in the training room after the game, and he knew it was pretty serious. He's meant so much to me and to this team."

    The tight end called McNabb last night to discuss the situation and get Owens' phone number. He said he liked what he heard in McNabb's tone.

    "I heard so much confidence in his voice," Lewis said. "He has never had a false confidence about him, and I love that."

    The tight end said the Eagles "have a lot more to play for now."

    "We're playing for the guys who are down," he said. "It's not just the receivers. It's a chance for everyone on the team to step up: the tight end, running backs, linemen. All of us are just going to have to raise our game on each play."


    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Contact staff writer Shannon Ryan at 215-854-5503 or sryan@phillynews.com.


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    Re: [Eagles] A Grief Interlude

    "We're playing for the guys who are down," he said. "It's not just the receivers. It's a chance for everyone on the team to step up: the tight end, running backs, linemen. All of us are just going to have to raise our game on each play."
    Great, just what we need. Motivated Eagles......bah....
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

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