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Eagles like their new crop of receivers

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The Eagles' young corps of receivers has given the team reason for hope — even if Terrell Owens doesn't play another down for Philadelphia.

The Eagles opened their preseason Monday night against Pittsburgh with Owens in Atlanta after being dismissed from camp last weekend. Todd Pinkston is out for the season with a ruptured Achilles' tendon.

The Eagles lost to the Steelers 38-31, but Greg Lewis, Billy McMullen and Reggie Brown proved to be worthy targets for quarterback Donovan McNabb. The trio finished with a combined 12 receptions for 139 yards, and each had at least one catch for more than 20 yards.

In his first game against NFL competition, Brown had five catches for 52 yards.

"He did a nice job. You've got to give him credit," coach Andy Reid said Tuesday at camp in Bethlehem, Pa. "We haven't had a receiver do what he did this early, but again, he has a long way to go. He sure took a nice step forward with tonight's performance."

Lewis, who made the team in 2003 as a rookie free agent, entered the game as the No. 1 wide receiver.

"It was different. I haven't done that in a long time, but I was excited about it," Lewis said. "I prayed on it last night. I was psyched to get out there, and I made a couple of plays."

McMullen, whom the Eagles drafted in the third round in 2003, has played sparingly in his first two seasons and has only four career receptions.


Running back Stephen Davis probably won't return to the team until at least the third game of the preseason.

"So far, there has been nothing to discourage that," Carolina coach John Fox said. "But we're not at that point yet and we're just taking it a day at a time."

Davis is attempting to recover from microfracture knee surgery and is not allowed to practice with the team while he remains on the physically unable-to-perform list. He has been working with team trainers.

"He's going through his rehab, and all of those things have been good," Fox said. "Now, it's just a matter of time when we get him out there and start banging him around."

The Panthers play their second game Saturday against the New York Giants. They play Cleveland on Aug. 26 and end the preseason against Pittsburgh on Sept. 1.

Davis ran for a career-high 1,444 yards in 2003, but missed 14 games last season with knee problems.


Coach Tony Dungy is hoping two-time Pro Bowl defensive end Dwight Freeney will be cleared to practice after Saturday's preseason game against Chicago.

"Certainly, by the beginning of next week, we think he'll be out there," Dungy said Tuesday.

Freeney, who led the NFL with 16 sacks last season, has not practiced since undergoing offseason shoulder surgery.

The Colts described the operation as a minor "clean-up" procedure, but Freeney did not practice during any of the team's minicamps. Team doctors still had not cleared Freeney after he reported to training camp at Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology on July 27, and he did not travel with the team for its preseason game in Japan. Freeney has been eagerly anticipating his return.

"If he could, he'd like to be out there tomorrow," Dungy said.


Running back Willis McGahee missed his second straight practice with a sore right leg, but is expected to play in Buffalo's preseason game against Green Bay.

Coach Mike Mularkey said he continues to hold McGahee out for precautionary reasons, but expects him to practice prior to Saturday's game. Mularkey declined to reveal the nature of the injury, except to refer to it as "a tweak."

McGahee would say only that he expects to play Saturday, referring all other questions about his injury to Mularkey. He appeared to hurt the knee area in the first quarter of Buffalo's preseason-opening 17-10 win at Indianapolis.

He was pulled down from behind by Colts defensive lineman Larry Tripplett after a 4-yard catch-and-run last Saturday night.


Cornerback Daylon McCutcheon made his first appearance on the practice field since July 30, when he was sidelined by migraine headaches and dizziness. The six-year veteran did some individual drills with strength coach John Lott, but did not participate in any of the team workouts.

"It's good that he's out there moving around and doing a little bit," Browns coach Romeo Crennel said. "We're encouraged but we still don't have a timetable. We'll just have to see how it goes."

McCutcheon and kicker Phil Dawson are the only players left from the Browns' 1999 expansion team.


Quarterback Drew Bledsoe had an MRI taken on his right foot just to make sure the aching he felt was nothing serious — and it wasn't.

"It just kind of started hurting yesterday," Bledsoe said. "One of those things."

Bledsoe hasn't missed any practice time because of the injury. The MRI was taken prior to an afternoon workout.

Also Tuesday, defensive tackle Jason Ferguson returned to practice after missing several days with an ankle problem and safety Derek Pagel was waived. He has a torn rotator cuff and will come back to the club's injured reserve list if he's not claimed.