Eagles want young receivers to step up

BETHLEHEM, Pa. -- With Terrell Owens day-to-day and Todd Pinkston gone for the season, the Philadelphia Eagles want their young receivers to contribute immediately.

Those include third-year pros Greg Lewis, 25, and Billy McMullen, 25, as well as rookie wideout Reggie Brown, 24. Among them, they have just 27 combined receptions and only one touchdown. But none of that matters once they get on the field.

"We just have more opportunities to go out and make plays," said Lewis, who will take Pinkston's role as the No. 2 receiver behind Owens. "If you worry about pressure you're going to get squashed. As a whole I think we're coming along. Right now we're real young with T.O and Pink going down, but that's no excuse."

Owens missed practice for the second straight day Saturday after leaving Thursday's workout with a groin injury. Pinkston, who ruptured his Achilles tendon Friday, will undergo season-ending surgery at a date yet to be determined.

"We don't know [about Owens]," Eagles coach Andy Reid said after Saturday's practice. "It's a day-to-day situation."

No matter when Owens returns, the roles will be increased for all three young receivers.

An undrafted free agent from Illinois who earned his way on Philadelphia's roster in 2003, Lewis became a reliable target for quarterback Donovan McNabb toward the end of last season. But he has only 23 career catches and one touchdown, a 30-yard grab in Philadelphia's 24-21 Super Bowl loss to New England.

"I think that everybody on the football team has a lot of confidence in him," Reid said. "He's playing well, but it's not something new that he is doing now that he didn't do before. He is getting more of an opportunity now."

McMullen, a third-round pick in 2003 out of Virginia, has been described mostly as a disappointment so far. With just four career receptions for 26 yards, Reid said McMullen needs to establish he can regularly contribute.

Brown will be the real question mark, as the unproven but quick-learning rookie has had a strong training camp to this point. An All-SEC wideout at Georgia last season, Brown said he feels no added pressure with the losses of Pinkston and Owens.

"I think Reggie is a guy that is willing to do whatever it takes in order to help the team win," McNabb said. "When you have that attitude coming in as a young guy, things seem to sort of fall into place for you. He's making the big plays for us, he has picked up the offense extremely fast and he is kind of just relaxed out there."