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Westbrook carries load for Eagles

Of less importance than what Randy Moss might do after scoring a touchdown today is whether he will score one at all.

At least the Minnesota Vikings will have Moss. The Eagles go into the NFC semifinal in Philadelphia without their own mercurial star receiver, Terrell Owens, who is out with a broken leg until at least the Super Bowl.

"They are going to go down as two of the best receivers to have played the game," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "They are unique characters in that they are both big and fast and strong and skilled."

And, some might add, a bit self-indulgent. Moss was fined pocket change, $10,000, for his pretend mooning of Green Bay fans after scoring a touchdown in the Vikings' 31-17 first-round victory at Green Bay last Sunday.

As a member of the San Francisco 49ers, Owens once celebrated a touchdown by dancing on the Cowboys' star at midfield, among other attention-grabbing deeds.

The Eagles signed Owens and defensive end Jevon Kearse to get to a Super Bowl after three straight defeats in the NFC title game. Kearse, who had 7 1/2 sacks, will be on hand today. But Owens was injured in the last game the NFC East champion Eagles played that mattered, a 12-7 home victory over Dallas that clinched home-field advantage throughout the NFC playoffs.

After Owens's injury, it shouldn't have come as a surprise that Reid rested his key players in the final two games, which the Eagles lost to St. Louis and Cincinnati to finish 13-3. The Eagles believe they will be rested, not rusty.

"We really haven't been out that long," quarterback Donovan McNabb insisted. "We practiced; we just had Sundays off. I played against St. Louis, I didn't play against Cincinnati. We still practiced and we practiced with a tempo that would prepare us for the game."

Without Owens, the Eagles' offense should revolve around running back Brian Westbrook, a weapon as both a runner and receiver who was injured for the Eagles' 14-3 home loss to Carolina in last year's NFC title game.

Westbrook, who didn't play in the last two games, led the Eagles with 812 yards rushing and averaged 4.6 per carry. His 73 receptions are second only to Owens's 77. Westbrook scored 10 touchdowns, four rushing and six receiving.

"I think everything goes through [Westbrook] with Terrell Owens out and probably went through him even before that," Vikings coach Mike Tice said. "They're going to do a lot of catch-and-run things and we have to be able to tackle very well."

Vikings quarterback Daunte Culpepper figures to look for Moss, who missed some practice time this week with a sore ankle. In a Sept. 20 game, also at Philadelphia, Moss caught a touchdown pass in a 27-16 Minnesota loss. But his eight catches gained only 69 yards -- his 8.6 average was his second lowest of the season.

Culpepper and Moss will face a secondary that has grown in confidence since then and features three Pro Bowl starters: safeties Brian Dawkins and Michael Lewis, and cornerback Lito Sheppard.

By winning at Green Bay, the Vikings showed they can win outdoors. But can the Vikings make it two in a row, this time against the NFC's best team? "The weather should never be a factor to me as far as going out and playing," Culpepper said. "Now your focus has to be extremely sharp."

Vikings injury report: DOUBTFUL: S Corey Chavous (elbow). QUESTIONABLE: RB Moe Williams (ankle). PROBABLE: WR Moss (ankle); LB Mike Nattiel (knee); CB Antoine Winfield (ankle).

Eagles injury report: OUT: WR Terrell Owens (ankle). DOUBTFUL: LB Mark Simoneau (ankle). PROBABLE: DE Derrick Burgess (sternal separation); S Dawkins (illness); TE Chad Lewis (triceps); G Jermane Mayberry (triceps); S Quintin Mikell (shoulder); WR Todd Pinkston (knee); LB Ike Reese (knee); TE L.J. Smith (back); DT Hollis Thomas (elbow); LB Nate Wayne (hamstring).

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