Friday, July 21, 2006

Injuries Could Open Door For Eagles Receivers

BETHLEHEM, PA -- The Eagles have 13 wide receivers in camp and it's one position that is expected to have heated competition.
Reggie Brown is expected to be the No. 1 receiver and Jabar Gaffney, has looked strong in workouts, but remember, the hitting hasn't started.
Greg Lewis has a lot to prove after a subpar 2005 season. Todd Pinkston missed last season with a ruptured Achilles tendon and while he is back running routes, nobody knows how a player will do coming off such a difficult injury.
Darnerien McCants might make the team based on his special teams performance, but it's not a lock.
In addition, fourth round pick Jason Avant and fifth rounder Jeremy Bloom, were considered good bets to make the team, with Bloom serving as a punt returner.
Injuries to both could now bring opportunity to others. Avant had arthroscopic surgery on June 20 and Bloom is suffering from a hamstring injury. There is no timetable for their return, but that means other players will be getting more reps in practice.
Rookie Hank Basket (6-4, 220) has shown that he is a physical receiver. The key is whether he will run by defensive backs. Other sin the mix are Carl Ford, Bill Sampy, Mike Gasperson, Justin Jenkins and J.J. Outlaw.
None are household names, but the key in preseason is getting noticed and with two fewer Eagles running pass patterns, the others could step up.
Many of those players are still long-shots to make the team, but at the least, the current injuries should give them an extended look.

McNabb Passes Audio Test

BETHLEHEM, PA -- Donovan McNabb proved to be entertaining at the microphone but none of that will matter if he can’t make the big play on 3rd and 7. The Eagles quarterback spent a lively 20 minutes answering reporters questions on Friday following the morning workout at Lehigh for selected rookies and veterans.
McNabb talked about many of the many insults in Terrell Owens’ new book, plus questions about his leadership and big-game ability.
In short, McNabb says there has never been and won’t be a leadership problem and he feels he has performed well in plenty of big games. (He may not have questions on those two topics, but others surely do, but that's for another day).
McNabb even addressed the statement in Owens' book that he influenced the Eagles’ decision to kick T.O. off the team last year.
“I can sit here and say that’s not true,” he said. “If I had that much pull, a lot of changes would be made, believe me.”
He was joking – sort of.
McNabb could have taken a stance that he is no longer talking about T.O. In fact that might not be a bad strategy, yet he is facing all the questions head on.
All the witty answers in the world, won’t mean anything if McNabb doesn’t show that he can bounce back from his worst season, one in which he missed the final seven games with a sports hernia.
McNabb’s best line of the day came when he was asked when his autobiography would come out.
“Mine is coming out real soon, he said laughing. “It’ll be a children’s book right next to his.”
Of course he meant Owens and that was a witty response. Yet the fans are sick of this griping between millionaire star football players.
McNabb realizes the only way T.O. will totally be forgotten is if the Eagles return to the playoffs instead of the NFC East basement. So McNabb can only hope that he can be as effective on the field as he was at the podium.