All things considered, Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb
preferred to stay in Philadelphia for the weekend.
Ironically that could help punch his ticket out of town.
A month ago McNabb was more than welcome to return to the Eagles in 2008 and
possibly beyond, despite speculation to the contrary according to a source. His
contract runs through 2010.
Now it looks like he’s digging his heels in to get out.
It’s unfathomable to imagine McNabb, the ultimate warrior even thinking about
missing a game with a swollen ankle and thumb, much less a game against an elite
opponent like the New England Patriots. He threw four touchdown passes with a
broken leg during the 2002 season and most recently came back three months ahead
of schedule from a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
The old McNabb would suit up if he could walk, if only to send a message to
Brett Favre, who has started an NFL record 248 straight regular season games
despite 30 official injuries and counting.
The new McNabb stayed home with the wounded. It wouldn’t be much of an issue
except that veteran Brian Dawkins, rehabbing from a neck stinger this season,
made road trips to warm-up and encourage teammates.
Rewind to last week and it was obvious McNabb was less than enthused, to put
it mildly, he didn’t get a chance to return to action after spraining the ankle
in the first half against the Dolphins. The X-rays for a break were negative.
Reporters saw no sign of a limp on his approach and exit from the post-game
interview room. His head coach gave conflicting reports about the ankle.
McNabb, peppered with questions about why he returned to the sideline for the
second half instead of staying off the injured ankle, basically said it was
because he thought he would get back on the field.
Instead the Eagles stuck with backup A.J. Feeley and he provided just enough spark to go with
Brian Westbrook’s career-high 148 rushing yards for a 17-7
triumph over the winless Dolphins and first-time rookie starting quarterback
John Beck. McNabb didn’t practice this past week, and Feeley starts today
against the formidable Patriots at Gillette Stadium.
Above and beyond the real extent of McNabb’s injuries, beyond whether it was
his idea or someone else’s to shut it down this weekend, the only real question
is whether he’s made his last start with the Eagles.
It’s hardly a secret the Eagles are big on rookie quarterback Kevin Kolb.
Closing in on playoff extinction despite a modest two-game winning streak, and
with a difficult stretch of schedule ahead, it won’t be long before the Eagles
feel obligated to take a look at Kolb, for he is their future.
There’s been uneasiness in the locker room this season, and it’s at least
partly due to the inconsistent play of the quarterback, the guy who in all
fairness risked his future rushing back from ACL surgery.
Still it’s just difficult to imagine McNabb, who turns 31 Sunday, making a fresh start
elsewhere even if that might be in his best interests.
Regardless of what’s going on between McNabb and head coach/executive vice
president of football operations Andy Reid, the Eagles’ locker room almost
certainly won’t be the same.
At this stage of the season they don’t care who drafted Kolb, extended the
contract of Feeley and got rid of Jeff Garcia.
It doesn’t matter who did what to who because the players know who was and
who wasn’t there for their most important game of the season.