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Eagles’ Boykin ready to battle Cowboys’ Miles Austin in the slot…

The matchup Dallas wants on offense is Miles Austin vs. rookie Brandon Boykin in this one..

Austin has lined up in the slot on 70 percent of the Cowboys’ pass plays in 2012, and the Eagles don’t move their starting cornerbacks into the slot all that often. Austin is going to see a whole lot of rookie nickel corner Brandon Boykin.

Boykin is actually having a decent season in the slot for the Eagles, which is really where he belongs. He’s allowed only 6.84 YPA and one touchdown this year. Boykin, standing at 5’9’’ and 182 pounds, hasn’t yet faced a slot receiver quite like Austin, however. Whereas Boykin matches up very well with your typical shifty slot receiver, there's a risk he's going to get overpowered by Austin. I don’t anticipate Boykin being able to win at the line. It’s a fairly specific prediction, but look for Austin to get inside on a few slants throughout the day, breaking Boykin’s tackles and taking at least one ball deep into Eagles territory.
But if the rest of the Eagles' defense holds it own against Romo and Company, and Boykin holds serve against Austin, the Birds should have a decent shot to neutralize the Austin effect in the slot.

Meanwhile, LeSean McCoy missed two practices with flu-like symptoms but returned to practice on a limited basis Friday and is expected to play in the Eagles' must-win game Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.

"He was able to do some things," coach Andy Reid said Friday in quotes provided by the team. "He had the flu and a little chest cold mixed in with it, but he's feeling better. We're just kind of easing him back in because he's still got a little bit of a cough, but he's getting there. He's doing well."

The Eagles would have a tough time beating Dallas without their top running back. McCoy has struggled at times this season but is still regarded among the league's most versatile backs. He rushed for 119 yards on 19 carries in Monday's 28-13 loss at New Orleans and now ranks 10th in the NFL in rushing with 623 yards on 146 carries. His 30 receptions are third among NFL running backs.

McCoy, a fourth-year veteran, could also be called upon to do some blocking against the Cowboys. Dallas LB DeMarcus Ware, who is tied for the NFC lead with nine sacks, will face an injury-riddled Eagles offensive line.

The Eagles announced Friday that right guard Danny Watkins will miss his third straight game with chronic ankle soreness. Dennis Kelly will start again in his spot. In addition, right tackle Todd Herremans will miss the rest of the season after suffering a dislocated cuboid bone in his right foot against the Saints. King Dunlap will move from left tackle to right tackle and Demetress Bell will play left tackle.

McCoy said Friday in quotes provided by the team that he will be ready for the game, despite not having practiced at full speed all week.

"I'm not a rookie," McCoy said. "I know my assignments for the blitzes and pickups, the (pass) protections, the plays called. I think the coaches trust me on that in those types of situations."

A solid running game could also help ease some of the pressure on quarterback Michael Vick.

Vick took a beating against the Saints, getting sacked seven times and absorbing at least a half-dozen more hits. He has suffered 27 sacks this season. Vick also has done a poor job of protecting the football. He has committed 14 turnovers this season.

"It's been tough," Vick said Friday in quotes provided by the team. "Nobody likes to lose, especially at this stage of my career. Even though there are going to be some losses (in a season), there should be more wins than losses. That's what we planned on this year. Our expectations were very high, and obviously we thought we'd be in a better position."

"But as frustrating at it may be, you've got to find some type of joy and some type of fulfillment. Everybody is different, but you've got to find what brings out the best in you. I'm trying to bring out the best in myself and play the best football I can. It's on all of us to get it turned around and we just have to keep pushing. The thing is, we still have a fighting chance. We still control our own destiny, so we all have to be held accountable."

The Eagles (3-5) and Cowboys (3-5) are both in desperation mode. Although they are tied for second place in the NFC East behind the New York Giants (6-3), they need a win Sunday to have a realistic shot at making the playoffs.

The Eagles have lost four straight. The Cowboys have dropped four of their last five games.

"This is a very important game obviously for both teams," Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo said Wednesday during a phone interview. "This is the time of year when teams are going to start separating themselves. For us, it's all about getting a win on Sunday."

"There's no question we have a history with [the Eagles]", Cowboys coach Jason Garrett said Wednesday in a phone interview. "Both teams wanted more wins this season at this stage of the schedule, and that has not been the case. We both need a win on Sunday."

This is a tale of two cities…and a tale of two franchises…Both teams know the implications of losing or winning this one… If nothing else, this is must-see football.