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Friday, November 29, 2013
Good health a good sign for Eagles

By Phil Sheridan

PHILADELPHIA -- As expected, the Eagles will go into Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals with only one notable injury. Safety Earl Wolff, who hyperextended his right knee in Green Bay Nov. 10, was listed as out on the team’s Friday injury report.

The relative health of the Eagles in Week 13 could have a significant impact on the NFC East race. The Eagles (6-5) are a half-game behind the Dallas Cowboys, who beat Oakland 31-24 on Thanksgiving Day to get to 7-5.

But Dallas was without three defensive starters – cornerback Morris Claiborne and linebackers Sean Lee and Justin Durant – for that game. They have been without defensive end Anthony Spencer all season. Defensive end DeMarcus Ware, who has missed three games, played after saying he is at “97 percent” healthy.

The Eagles and Cowboys meet in the season finale on Dec. 29. Between now and then, the Eagles face Arizona (7-4), Detroit (7-5), Minnesota (2-8-1) and Chicago (6-5). Dallas plays Chicago, Green Bay (5-6-1) and Washington (3-8). The strength of schedule and chance to play the Eagles at home would slightly favor the Cowboys.

But the battle of attrition seems to give the Eagles an edge.

“When you have starters with games lost, I think it’s always a difficult deal, just because of the preparation part of it and getting guys ready to play in games,” Eagles coach Chip Kelly said. “It’s a huge thing for us, not only in the (offensive) line but a lot of our positions because we haven’t lost many guys, especially starters to injuries that have had them out. It’s really helped us.”

Wolff, safety Patrick Chung, cornerback Bradley Fletcher, linebacker Mychal Kendricks and quarterbacks Michael Vick and Nick Foles are the only starters to miss games with in-season injuries. That’s a total of 14 games missed by starters (Wolff replaced Chung as a starter while he was out with a shoulder injury).

Chung has returned to the lineup to replace Wolff. Fletcher (pectoral muscle) and Kendricks (knee) are expected to return to their spots Sunday.

The Eagles lost three players, including starting wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, to ACL tears early in training camp. They have not placed a player on injured reserve since the season began.