| If McNabb is as sharp in autumn as he's looked in August, Philly's going places.
7 ST. LOUIS
15 at Dallas
28 at Chicago
12 at San Francisco
2 at Seattle
9 NY GIANTS
16 at Cincinnati
23 at Baltimore
27 ARIZONA (T)
7 at NY GIANTS
15 CLEVELAND (M)
21 at Washington
David Akers, Placekicker: Last year Akers was 22 of 22 on FG attempts inside 40 yards but shanked eight of 10 from 40-plus. Special teams coach Rory Segrest thinks that long-range accuracy will improve thanks to a stable snapper-holder tandem and a training regimen Akers picked up from an infomercial that helped him drop 20 pounds while gaining leg strength.
He's already got one of the league's superbacks. Now, give Donovan McNabb some passing targets, and watch out.
Let's add some weapons," Donovan McNabb wrote in his blog on yardbarker.com
in January, two months before the Eagles' pursuit of free-agent cruise missile
Randy Moss went for naught when Moss re-signed with the Patriots. On a short
walk to his car at the Lehigh University training camp, McNabb elaborated on
what he meant.
"When you say 'weapon,' people automatically think receiver," the 10th-year
quarterback said. "Weapons can be a lot of things. A weapon could be a guy who
gets you the ball back on defense. A weapon could be a returner people fear. It
could be another guy on the offensive side who can draw some attention."
Coach Andy Reid appears to have filled each of those gaps in his arsenal, in
the personages of, respectively, cornerback Asante Samuel, the 2007 Pro Bowl
selection who was signed to a six-year, $57 million free-agent deal;
wideout DeSean Jackson, a 2008 second-round pick who returned six punts for
touchdowns in his three years at Cal; and former Dolphins running back Lorenzo
Booker, whose electric training camp made him the talk of the Lehigh Valley.
Philadelphia will continue to benefit from the versatility of Brian
Westbrook, the running back whose 2,104 yards from scrimmage led the NFL last
season. He has quietly become one of the league's most dynamic players. "He
scares me," says Giants general manager Jerry Reese. "Every time we play them,
I'm like, Golly, this guy's a magician."
Still, there's little doubt that the missing weapon is a game-breaking
No. 1 wideout. Sixth-year vet Kevin Curtis caught a career-best 77 passes
for 1,110 yards last season, but he's out for at least six weeks with a sports
hernia, and at 5' 11" and age 30, is more a No. 2 or a slot receiver.
Of the other wideouts, fourth-year man Reggie Brown has yet to contribute
consistently, and not one among the trio of Jason Avant, Hank Baskett and Greg
Lewis has reached 50 catches in a season. As for the diminutive Jackson,
it's too much to expect him to make a significant impact on offense as a
In fact, Philly hasn't had an elite receiver since, well -- "2004, obviously,
when we had T.O.," says McNabb. As he watches Terrell Owens continue his Hall of
Fame career in Dallas -- and sees Owens choke up when defending the honor of his
quarterback, Tony Romo -- McNabb can't help but imagine what might have been. "The
things we could have done together would have been remarkable," he says. "You're
talking about Bradshaw and Stallworth. You're talking about Peyton [Manning] and
Even so, McNabb has no regrets about the way Owens's ephemeral Eagles career
ended midway through the 2005 season, when McNabb and the front office
essentially decided that the disruption Owens caused outweighed his considerable
talents. "As he began to get in different situations in Dallas, he understood I
was right," says McNabb, who figures Owens is finally breaking his long pattern
of destructive relationships with quarterbacks. "You see what he's doing right
now with Romo? How different is that?"
So for the third straight year the offensive load will be shouldered by
Westbrook and McNabb. The good news is that the 31-year-old passer looked as
sharp as ever in training camp, the torn right ACL and meniscus, suffered in
2006 and from which he was still recovering last year, a distant memory. "He's
putting the deep balls right over the shoulder," says Baskett. "He's threading
the needle. It's back to Donovan -- like, Pro Bowl Donovan."
McNabb is confident, even in his receiving corps, which he says is stepping
up to the challenge. "If we stay healthy and play the way everyone in the NFL
knows we're capable of, believe me, by Week 6 everyone in the NFL will be
talking about the Philadelphia Eagles," he says. Four of those first six games
will come against playoff contenders, including a pretty intriguing matchup in
Week 2 -- with T.O.'s Cowboys. -- Ben