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NFC notes

Wire services
Published January 17, 2004

EAGLES: N.D. Kalu left practice with a sprained foot, but coach Andy Reid is optimistic the starting defensive end will be able to play in the NFC Championship Game.

Kalu turned his foot during warmups, though X-rays showed no damage.

"He should be fine," Reid said. "By the time he got to the X-ray unit, he was feeling better than when he initially started going there."

Kalu has been one of the few constants on an injury-plagued Eagles defense, finishing with 5.5 sacks and 74 tackles while giving a steady presence on the pass rush.

Marco Coleman and starting defensive tackle Darwin Walker took some of Kalu's reps, Reid said.

Cornerback Troy Vincent had more reason for optimism when he was cleared to start after missing the past three games with a hip injury.

Vincent practiced all week and said the hip no longer caused enough pain to prevent him from playing at full speed.

"It feels awfully good," Vincent said. "Last week was difficult for me. I needed that one week rest. I felt fine the entire week of practice."

PANTHERS: Running back Stephen Davis worked out, only no one got to see it: Coach John Fox closed practice for the first time all season.

Fox also did not reveal much when discussing Davis' status for the NFC Championship Game.

"He looked fine," the coach said.

Was he able to participate in all the drills?

"Uh-huh," Fox mumbled.

Davis, who rushed for a career-best 1,444 yards this season, had been held out of practice all week with a strained left quadriceps. He was injured in the second half of Carolina's playoff victory over St. Louis on a 64-yard run.

Fox reiterated that Davis' playing status will be a game-time decision. If Davis can't go, second-year back DeShaun Foster will start.

Although the Panthers have seemed loose and excited for their second trip to the NFC Championship Game, Fox appears to be getting more anxious as the day grows closer.

He never has been one to reveal information that could assist the opposing team, but Friday was the first time he forbid reporters from watching practice.

Also Friday, the Panthers signed a 20-year stadium naming rights deal with Bank of America Corp. The facility, known as Ericsson Stadium since its opening in 1996, will be Bank of America Stadium starting with the 2004 season.

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