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Eagles begin life after T.O.

Rookie TE moves into his locker; Chad Lewis rejoins team

Greg Lewis, right, will be one of the Philly receivers expected to step up after the loss of Terrell Owens.
Greg Lewis, right, will be one of the Philly receivers expected to step up after the loss of Terrell Owens.
Bradley C Bower, Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA — If there was any lingering doubt that Terrell Owens is no longer a part of the Philadelphia Eagles, this ought to clear it up: A rookie tight end moved into his old locker Wednesday.

And other than making his suspension official, the Eagles had nothing more to say.

Like it or not, life after T.O. has arrived for Philadelphia.

No more daily drama. No more distractions. No more sniping and griping.

No more playoffs?

"We know T.O. is not here, so everyone who has to catch the ball has to step up," tight end L.J. Smith said.

Without Owens, the soap-opera atmosphere may be gone and team chemistry might be restored. But that doesn't change the fact that Donovan McNabb's top two targets are now Greg Lewis and Reggie Brown.

Lewis, a fourth receiver, has 26 catches for 284 yards and one TD this season. Brown showed promise with five catches for 94 yards and a TD on Sunday — the first game without Owens — but he's still a rookie.

It's enough to make fans flash back to the days of Charles Johnson and Torrance Small, Todd Pinkston and James Thrash.

The struggling Eagles are 4-4 and were having trouble on offense, even with one of the NFL's top playmakers in the lineup. A team that has played in the last four NFC championship games suddenly finds itself in a difficult position to make the playoffs.

Owens, who was dismissed from the Eagles on Monday, had 20 touchdowns in 21 regular-season games with Philadelphia. Losing the All-Pro wideout puts more pressure on McNabb, running back Brian Westbrook and the rest of the offense.

"Everyone wants to say we didn't win championship games without a big-play receiver. Well, our big-play receiver was hurt last year and we won a championship game," cornerback Sheldon Brown said Wednesday.

The Eagles led the NFC all of last season and reached the Super Bowl, despite losing Owens to an ankle injury in Week 15. But Pinkston and Freddie Mitchell were the starting wideouts, McNabb was playing at a high level and the defense was dominant.

McNabb is struggling, Pinkston is out for the year with an injury and Mitchell is unemployed after being cut by the Eagles and Kansas City. Meanwhile, the defense has been inconsistent, allowing an average of 23.9 points per game.

"With No. 81 being out, we have to take it upon ourselves as a defense to play better," end Jevon Kearse said. "We have to create turnovers and give the offense a better chance."

Owens didn't play in Sunday night's 17-10 loss at Washington and will remain suspended for three more games without pay. After that, the Eagles plan to deactivate him for the rest of the season.

A picture of Owens sitting between coach Andy Reid and owner Jeffery Lurie during happier times for the Eagles was removed from team offices. Rookie tight end Stephen Spach moved into Owens' locker Wednesday, and a familiar face — former Cougar Chad Lewis — rejoined the team.


NFLPA wants Eagles to cut Owens

The NFL Players Association wants the Philadelphia Eagles to cut Terrell Owens if they're not going to reinstate him after his four-game suspension is over.

"We're not asking them to play him, we can't force them to do that," Gene Upshaw, the NFLPA's executive director, said Wednesday. "But if they're not going to let him come back to practice and do all the other things associated with that, then we want them to cut him, let him become a free agent now."

The union already has appealed the four-game suspension levied on the wide receiver by the Eagles for what coach Andy Reid called "a large number of situations that accumulated over a long period of time."

The appeal will be heard on Nov. 18.