McNabb shows mobility
BETHLEHEM, Pa. - The pocket collapsed
on Donovan McNabb and the Eagles quarterback deftly
escaped the pressure, rolled to his left and threw a
bullet in wide receiver Greg Lewis' direction.
Lewis reached out to make a one-handed catch that he
turned into a 23-yard gain during the Eagles'
morning practice session yesterday at Lehigh
University. It was a sensational catch, probably the
best of the day.
More encouraging, however, was the mobility shown by
A year ago, when McNabb was dealing with a sports
hernia, it became painfully obvious that he did not
have the same elusiveness behind the line of
scrimmage that had served as one of his biggest
At least in the early going of training camp, it
appears to be back.
"I'm healthier, so I'm able to get out of the pocket
a little bit more with a little more speed," McNabb
said. "I can make a decision [on] what I'm going to
do after that. If the call comes for me to come out
of the pocket and make something happen, that's what
I'll do. If not, then I'll just continue to do what
I've been doing."
McNabb had an impressive day throwing the football
against the Eagles' second-team defense and he said
he has no lingering effects from the sports hernia
surgery that cost him the final seven games of last
He said he realizes he creates a lot of problems for
a defense when he's at his elusive best.
"It puts a lot of pressure on defenses," McNabb
said. "People know that I can get out of the pocket.
Every quarterback in the league, if they're called
to, will get out of the pocket. But if you're
healthy, it's easy."
And few quarterbacks in the NFL are more dangerous
than McNabb when they're on the move.
Hit of the day
Surprise, surprise, it came from
Jeremiah Trotter. After Jeff Garcia hit Matt Schobel
with a short pass, the Eagles' middle linebacker
quickly closed on the new tight end and made the
kind of hit that always excites a crowd.
Play of the day
Wide receiver Darnerien McCants got
behind the Eagles' first-team defense and caught a
strike from quarterback Jeff Garcia in stride for a
The heat and the humidity were both
up yesterday, and they probably helped trigger the
first scuffle of training camp.
It was a minor altercation between linebacker Greg
Richmond and guard Scott Young. At the end of a
play, the two briefly grabbed each other's shoulder
pads before teammates separated them. Trotter was
the primary peacemaker.
Jason Avant, a rookie selected in the
fourth round, still has not been on the field
because he is recovering from arthroscopic knee
surgery, but the wide receiver did have to take a
walk along the bleachers after a visit to the
autograph tent yesterday.
The reception from a small gathering of fans was
interesting. "Welcome to Philly," one fan
screamed. "You look better in that [No. 81]
jersey than the other guy," screamed another. "T.O.
who?" said another fan.
One couldn't help but notice Koy
Detmer's new look. Instead of the long, scruffy hair
that has been a staple during the quarterback's
10-year career, he arrived at practice yesterday
with a shaved head. It was quite a sight.
Running back Ryan Moats joined the list of injured
Eagles yesterday when he was carted off the field
during the morning practice. A team spokesman said
that Moats had suffered a sprained knee ligament. He
did not participate in the afternoon practice, and
no timetable was given for his return. He suffered
the injury after being hit by cornerback Donald
Strickland during a scrimmage.
The Eagles were already a little thin at running
back because coach Andy Reid is being cautious with
how he is using Correll Buckhalter as the veteran
back attempts to return from two major knee
surgeries. Buckhalter has yet to participate in the
Fullback Thomas Tapeh had been out with a hamstring
injury but practiced in the afternoon for the first
time since veterans reported to camp.
In other injury news, no official reason was given
for cornerback Lito Sheppard's absence from the
morning practice. Sheppard, who is recovering from
ankle surgery that kept him out of the final six
games last season, returned for the afternoon
Linebacker Shawn Barber left the morning practice
with leg cramps in the severe heat; he returned for
the afternoon workout.
Offensive tackle William Thomas was held out of the
afternoon practice by Reid, but no reason was given.
Thomas' spot with the first-team offense was filled
once again by second-round draft pick Winston
Todd Pinkston remained sidelined by sore Achilles
tendons in both his legs. He had surgery to repair a
ruptured right Achilles tendon last summer.
"There's no timetable," Pinkston said when asked
about his return. "I'm not concerned. We're just
trying to stay patient right now. It's just
precautionary. I don't want to do too much too
The Eagles had a brief conversation yesterday with
first-round pick Brodrick Bunkley's agent, Gary
Wichard, but the sides did not move any closer to
striking a deal.
Bunkley missed his ninth and 10th practices.
During an interview on WIP-AM (610) yesterday, Reid
said he had tried to talk to Bunkley but was denied
permission by Wichard.
Defensive coordinator Jim Johnson said the defensive
tackle's absence most benefits sixth-round pick
Safety J.R. Reed, attempting a comeback from a
severe leg injury, drew a loud cheer during the
afternoon practice when he picked off a long pass by
Donovan McNabb... . With Pinkston, Jason Avant (knee
surgery) and Jeremy Bloom (hamstring) all sidelined,
the Eagles claimed receiver Derrick Fenner off
waivers. The Washington Redskins had released Fenner
after signing him as an undrafted rookie free agent
in the spring. He played at Maryland, where he
caught 82 passes for 1,189 yards and seven
touchdowns in his career.
� While the special teams were working on punting, I
took in offensive line coach Juan Castillo talking
to his players. The man has total control of the
group, and they listen to him very attentively. It
was a good thing to see out of the young group.
--Shane Evans, 4:17 p.m.
� When the offensive drills were concluded,
full-speed punt drills were started and it was very
nice to see punter Dirk Johnson kicking balls well,
against a full rush. Johnson was able to get plenty
of height on his kicks and they seemed to boom off
of his foot. I tabbed one at about 53 yards.
--Shane Evans, 4:14 p.m.
� On a nice all-around play by the offense, Reno
Mahe was able to score a long touchdown. Koy Detmer
rolled out, lofted the pass to Mahe over his
defender and he scampered the rest of the way into
the end zone. Also on the play, rookie guard Max
Jean-Gilles made an excellent block that set Detmer
free along the left side of the play.
--Shane Evans, 4:12 p.m.
� Defensive end Jerome McDougle had a very nice
pursuit of rolling quarterback Koy Detmer. Detmer
rolled to his left, away from McDougle, but the
talented end was able to chase him down, and had it
been a full-contact drill, (or a game actually,
because you can't hit the quarterback in training
camp) McDougle would have made an outstanding play
on the quarterback. This is extremely promising for
the player who's career was in doubt this time last
--Shane Evans, 4:10 p.m.
� For the second time this training camp, the
absence of William Thomas warranted time for Winston
Justice at the left tackle spot. The talented rookie
out of USC has been getting plenty of time with the
first teamers and it can only help his performance
and his abilities.
Shane Evans, 3:43 p.m.
� A little third-team offense news: quarterback Koy
Detmer hooked up with fullback Jason Davis on a nice
shovel pass that seemed to fool the defense. Davis
was able to scamper down the right sideline
virtually untouched. These were during non-contact
Shane Evans, 3:26 p.m.
� During full-team drills and individual-position
drills, Jamaal Jackson was practicing with the first
team. It will be interesting to see when the
veteran, Hank Fraley, gets his chance to step in
there and show his stuff.
--Shane Evans, 3:20 p.m.
� Some good news as linebacker Shawn Barber returned
to the field today after what looked like a severe
injury during the morning practice. Barber was
chasing a running back down in the flank, lost his
footing and fell down clutching his leg/knee. It was
cramps, however, and the veteran was back at full
speed for the late practice.
--Shane Evans, 3:14 p.m.
� Both running back Ryan Moats and left tackle
William Thomas did not take part in the afternoon
practice. Moats got knocked down hard a few times in
the morning and had heat exhaustion. Thomas will be
given a light load by head coach Andy Reid until he
is fully healthy.
--Shane Evans, 3:11 p.m.
� Quarterback Donovan McNabb throws a pass for wide
receiver Hank Baskett, who runs a fade pattern
during the red zone drill, and cornerback Dexter
Wynn breaks up the play.
-- Chris McPherson, 10:54 a.m.
� Wide out Darnerien McCants had an outstanding
touchdown reception as he got by cornerback Sheldon
Brown and hauled in the deep ball from quarterback
Jeff Garcia before the safety help from Brian
Dawkins arrived. A very big play for McCants.
--Shane Evans, 10:47 a.m.
� On a play over the middle, running back Correll
Buckhalter made a nice move against middle
linebacker Jeremiah Trotter and caught a strike from
quarterback Donovan McNabb. Buckhalter seemed to
move well over the middle, which is definitely a
--Shane Evans, 10:36 a.m.
� Center Nick Cole holds defensive tackle Mike
Patterson at bay in one-on-one drills.
-- Chris McPherson, 10:34 a.m.
� Defensive tackle Darwin Walker bull rushes past
guard Max Jean-Gilles in one-on-one drills. Walker
has tremendous strength and if he can stay healthy,
he could enjoy the type of start that he had last
season when he had 2.5 sacks in the first two games.
-- Chris McPherson, 10:32 a.m.
� Kicker David Akers nails a 47-yard field goal.
-- Chris McPherson, 10:19 a.m.
� Running back Ryan Moats was leveled by cornerback
Donald Strickland, forcing a fumble.
--Chris McPherson, 10:16 a.m.
� Brian Baldinger from FOX Sports is watching
practice from the sidelines. The former Eagle
compared the training camps run by Rich Kotite, who
Baldinger played for, and Andy Reid. Baldinger said
Kotite didn't run the players hard during camp
because there were a lot of veterans. Meanwhile,
Reid looks to break down the players during this
week of full-contact hitting.
-- Chris McPherson, 10:14 a.m.
� Tight end Andy Thorn makes a nice block on SAM
linebacker Chris Gocong to help spring a run.
-- Chris McPherson, 10:11 a.m.
� Wide receiver Greg Lewis made a nice one-handed
catch from the throw of quarterback Donovan McNabb.
McNabb was forced to scramble to his left side and
was able to feather a pass over the linebackers and
in front of the safeties into the outstretched arm
of Lewis. He was also able to keep both feet in
--Shane Evans, 10:09 a.m.
� Guard Todd Herremans pushes back defensive tackle
Sam Rayburn during a run play in live action drills.
-- Chris McPherson, 10:08 a.m.
� Running back Ryan Moats had two nice runs in a row
against the Eagles defense. Moats showed some burst
up the middle and then was able to bounce it outside
along the sidelines.
--Shane Evans, 9:56 a.m.
� Rookie linebacker Omar Gaither made a nice open
field tackle against starting running back Brian
Westbrook. It was a very good flash of what Gaither
may be able to offer in the future.
--Shane Evans, 9:54 a.m.
� During the 7-on-7 drills, OLB Greg Richmond and OG
Scott Young engaged in a minor scuffle after a play.
It's not uncommon to see tempers flare when the pads
are on, the mercury rises and players become
--Zach Berman, 9:37 a.m.
� The linebackers were working on a drill with the
tight ends earlier this morning. The tight ends were
lining up and testing the SAM off the snap.
--Shane Evans, 9:11 a.m.
� There are referees in attendance to help oversee
practice. Every year, the officials come during
training camp to help with the ever-evolving NFL
rule book. During the off-season, the NFL toned down
touchdown celebrations and made replay
modifications. In terms of game play, the NFL
expanded its definition of a horse collar tackle,
disallowed a rushing defensive player from forcibly
hitting a quarterback below the knees and forbid a
defensive player from lining up directly over a
center snapping on field goals, extra points and
punts. The NFL also sought to clarify its definition
of holding to create uniformity among the penalty.
--Zach Berman, 9:10 a.m.
� The offensive line was working a drill with the
left guard and left tackle lining up with Hank
Fraley, and the right guard and right tackle lining
up with Jamaal Jackson. They worked about 10 snaps
each. It was peculiar to see both centers working
with the starting guys, at the same time.
--Shane Evans, 9:06 a.m.
� Returning to the field after missing the last four
days of practice, fullback Thomas Tapeh was in full
pads this morning and working out with the rest of
the backs. Tapeh suffered from a hyperextended knee
and a subsequent strained hamstring
--Shane Evans, 8:52 a.m.
Running back Ryan Moats sprained a knee ligament in
Wednesday morning's workout. The second-year
running back suffered the injury after being hit by
cornerback Donald Strickland during a live drill.
Moats is penciled in as the backup running back to
Brian Westbrook and the Eagles are expected to
utilize Moats as a catalyst in their pledge to run
Todd Pinkston paused his rehab for a few minutes
after Wednesday's practice to sign autographs for
fans. The veteran receiver sat out for the second
straight day as the team is taking precautionary
measures for his inflamed left Achilles tendon.
Pinkston met with reporters after he signed, but
couldn't provide any details on his prognosis. "I
don't know," Pinkston said. "We're just trying to
stay patient right now. I don't want to count my
eggs. I'm just doing a my rehab and doing a little
extra and getting a little rest."
Pinkston, who missed last season with a ruptured
right Achilles tendon, experienced soreness in his
feet and was diagnosed with an inflamed Achilles
tendon on Monday. He's spent the past two days
rehabbing during practice.
"I'm doing a lot of running," Pinkston said. "We'll
just take it day-by-day. It's Just precautionary. I
don't want do too much too fast." He admitted it's
difficult to sit out, especially considering he
missed last season. Pinkston wants to return to the
field, but understands the need to be cautious.
"It's kind of hard. I'm just trying to sit back,"
Pinkston said. "Coach (Andy Reid) is looking out for
me and doesn't want to rush me too fast. It's hard
sitting in the training room, know the guys out
there are working hard and sweating. I want to be
out there, but it's all about my health."
Receiver Darnerien McCants is in a battle for one of
the elusive receiver spots. It helps that he had
perhaps the top play of the day in Wednesday
morning's practice. McCants, who usually lines
up inside, was on the left outside flank against the
first-team defense. He sidestepped cornerback
Sheldon Brown and free safety Brian Dawkins had to
slide over. When that happened, backup quarterback
Jeff Garcia located McCants and the fifth-year
receiver's eyes opened up.
"Once I get even with any safety, I can beat him,"
McCants said. "I never had to break strides or break
around. It was perfect."
Physically, McCants has a lot of tools. He's big,
tall and relatively fast. What's lacked in his
career is production. McCants has carved a niche in
the red zone, scoring six touchdowns on 27 catches
while with the Washington Redskins in 2003.
"My game is in the red zone," McCants said. "Most of
the time I'm in the middle so I don't have the
chance to break free. But if they keep me outside,
10 out of 20, I'm scoring."
Even still, he finds himself in a crowded mix of
receivers. His ability in the red zone can help find
him a spot on the team. McCants' goals are higher,
though. And if you listen to McCants speak, you'll
quickly be assured his lack of sufficient production
isn't because of a lack of a confidence.
"There's only one goal and that's to start," McCants
said. "I've proven everything that whatever critic
said. They talk about my speed, I run a 4.4. I'm
6-foot-3, 215 pounds. They say I couldn't play
special teams; I was fourth in production here. They
say I couldn't do whatever, I was one of the leading
scorers and I was the third guy in Washington.