|Eagles' McNabb out to prove he's back in opener against Pack|
|Written by Admin|
|Thursday, 06 September 2007 12:46|
Brett Favre has been there before, facing the first hint of his football mortality.
``First of all, Donovan has nothing to worry about,'' said Favre, who will face McNabb and the Eagles in Sunday's season opener at Lambeau Field. ``I think he knows that. But you wonder, you question.''
Just like Favre did after the Packers drafted Aaron Rodgers in 2005.
``Sometimes you go, 'Hey, is this the first step in the phase out, or what?'' said Favre, who needs one victory to tie John Elway's quarterback record of 148 career wins. ``And at some point, they have to groom somebody else, either by draft or free agency or whatever. But once again, Donovan has nothing to worry about.''
Not if he can prove he's still Donovan McNabb, anyway.
McNabb tore a knee ligament last November and finished the regular season on the sidelines for the third time in five years.
Now he's back, insisting he'll be just as able to take off and run as he was before the injury. And he said he isn't using the presence of rookie quarterback Kevin Kolb as added motivation.
``I don't have enough room on my shoulders for any more motivation than I've had in previous years,'' McNabb said. ``Every year that I come and I challenge myself training to be better than I was before. By stepping out on that field, I'm truly motivated already.''
Whereas Favre's refusal to mentor Rodgers led to tension during the Packers' training camp in 2005, Eagles coach Andy Reid said McNabb has been working closely with Kolb, a second-round pick.
Kolb played extensively in the preseason as McNabb sat out the first and last games. McNabb didn't scramble much when he did play, but might be inclined to take off running early on Sunday to prove he can still do it.
Especially against a defense he has dominated in the past.
``I'm just going to try to run the offense,'' McNabb said. ``And if that allows me to kind of ad-lib a little bit, then that's what I'll do.''
McNabb is 4-1 against Green Bay, most recently throwing for 288 yards and two touchdowns in the Eagles' 31-9 victory in Philadelphia last October.
Going into the 50th season of football at Lambeau Field, the Packers seem to have lost their home-field advantage of late. Green Bay was 3-5 at Lambeau last season.
Packers coach Mike McCarthy joked that the Packers' locker room might be too nice.
``We have a great home-field advantage here, great energy,'' McCarthy said. ``We just didn't handle the adversity, that's what I'm most disappointed in. When things don't go right we need to keep playing and keep rolling. We'll do a better job of that this year.''
The Packers will have to start by doing a better job against running back Brian Westbrook. He sat out last year's game against the Packers with a knee injury, but had 120 yards rushing in a victory over the Packers in 2005 and 156 yards receiving against the Packers in 2004.
``Every time we play them, it's the same two problems - McNabb and Westbrook - every year,'' defensive lineman Cullen Jenkins said. ``I don't think it's going to change as long as they're there. So we've just got to go in and stop them.''
The Packers expect to have one of the top defenses in the league, even if they aren't yet getting league-wide recognition.
``We still feel unrespected,'' Jenkins said. ``We still feel like people are kind of putting us (on the) backburner and we're not going to be that good, everybody else is going to be better than us. It's still a challenge. We're still trying to go out there and earn respect.''
For the second year in a row, Favre must make the best of a young supporting cast on offense. Beyond that, wide receiver Donald Driver's sprained foot is still healing, and rookie running back Brandon Jackson is likely to start because Vernand Morency is still nursing a knee injury. Driver is expected to play Sunday and Morency's availability is uncertain.
The Packers are counting on young players such as Jackson and another rookie, No. 3 receiver James Jones, to react properly to the Eagles' frequent blitzes.
``It offers a challenge for me,'' Favre said. ``My job is to trust in them, trust in everyone, trust the system, and make plays. And I think we all at one point or another throughout training camp or preseason games saw what our guys are capable of doing.''
Favre has reached out to Reid, his former quarterbacks coach in Green Bay, to offer support in what has been a difficult offseason.
Reid welcomes the start of the season, even though he doesn't consider it a way to escape from his sons' recent legal problems.
``I'm not trying to escape anything,'' Reid said. ``But I think it's always exciting when you have an opportunity here to play.''
McNabb said Reid has the players' support.
``We know that that's a family issue, and he's doing a great job handling it,'' McNabb said. ``And we're just making sure that we ease, I guess, a little bit of the pain, so to speak, and just make sure we go out on the field and execute.''