QB sneak: Mac pulls a surprise
By LES BOWENmailto:firstname.lastname@example.org
THEY HAD talked about it in general terms last week, but Eagles center Jamaal Jackson had no clue that this would be the day. In fact, in a Sunday night telephone conversation between Jackson and Donovan McNabb, the Eagles quarterback somehow managed to omit a fairly crucial piece of information.
"I saw him gettin' his helmet this morning, and I was like, 'Where are you going?' " Jackson said yesterday, after McNabb took part in the first half of a minicamp workout, his first team activity since McNabb's right ACL snapped on a scramble to the sideline at Lincoln Financial Field during a Nov. 19 loss to the Tennessee Titans.
"He looked good," Jackson said. "I couldn't tell as far as the mobility and stuff like that, because I'm snappin' and trying to fend off people, but the center exchange went well. You would think a guy that had half a year off would be kind of rusty, but he jumped right in - the rhythm was there, the timing was there, it felt great."
Coach Andy Reid said the team "let him test it out today. We didn't give him too much. We wanted to make sure he can move around tomorrow, if possible, so we gave him a few shots and got him back to the ice tub, there."
Obviously, half a minicamp workout doesn't complete the rehab process or ensure anything as far as when McNabb will play again, which was why McNabb said he didn't want to address reporters yesterday. McNabb told a team spokesman he preferred to speak after he has gone through a few workouts, and has a better idea of where he stands.
"It felt great to get back out there on the field with all of the guys. It's just part of the rehab process and hopefully good things will continue to come," McNabb said in a statement released by the team. "It is important to continue to monitor my progress, but also be smart about the whole situation."
Last Friday, McNabb seemed leery of guaranteeing he would be ready for the season opener, Sept. 9 at Green Bay. In an appearance on Comcast SportsNet's "Daily News Live," McNabb talked of the problems Daunte Culpepper encountered in his return from knee surgery last season, and said he would have the final word on whether he was ready.
"I don't believe in decisions being made for you," McNabb said then. "I'm not there to prove anything, to rush something that really can't be rushed."
So yesterday was certainly a surprise to reporters. Reid said it would be important to see if McNabb encountered any swelling. If not, he might participate today as well. The final organized team activity before training camp ends Thursday. Camp opens at Lehigh July 27. Previously, McNabb and the team had said he was shooting for getting on the field at the start of training camp.
"He's where we'd hoped he would be," Reid said. "He's worked very hard to get to this spot . . . I thought he did a nice job. He looked strong."
Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said McNabb "is probably a little different from most people, because he looked really good."
Mornhinweg said he couldn't tell any difference from McNabb yesterday and McNabb before he was injured.
Reid said McNabb has pushed his knee harder in rehab than he did on the field yesterday, so swelling shouldn't be a problem, but "you get out there and you get your juices going, start banging that thing a little bit harder into the ground on your drops and so on than you normally would, so we'll just see how he does there."
Reid said the Birds would "take it day by day" with McNabb. He said they began talking about McNabb working into the drills this week after McNabb met with doctors last week to assess his progress.
McNabb, 30, wore no brace. Jackson estimated he got "12 to 15 reps" during the "group install" and "team" periods, including a play on which he sprinted out and kept the ball. He completed about a 45-yard pass to wideout Reggie Brown.
"He was good; everything went smoothly, from my point of view," said Brown, who added that McNabb's presence "brought a little bit of normalcy back to practice. You're used to having Don back there every play, and just having him back kind of sets you on your way [preparing for the season] . . . He seems like the same Don to me."
Kevin Kolb, the quarterback the Eagles shocked McNabb and their fans by selecting with their first pick in the April draft, said he thought being able to watch McNabb and confer with him during drills will aid Kolb's development.
"We're very similar in some things we do," Kolb said. "It's nice to have somebody who does the same type of things you do . . . I thought he looked great, he looked awesome. He definitely had some kick in his step. The ball was coming out pretty good."
Corner Sheldon Brown said McNabb has looked good enough rehabbing with trainers that "I thought he could have gone in last camp."
Wideout Hank Baskett said: "Just having him out there is a great feeling. Our leader, that's our captain - he's back."
Reid said sending McNabb back inside for the second half of the workout was the coach's idea. He said McNabb wanted to stay out for the red-zone segment.
"I knew once he got out there, he'd want to take every snap. The only way to keep him out of there was to send him off the field, so that's what I did," Reid said.