McNabb feels closer to return but Eagles being cautious

Updated: November 28, 2007, 5:37 PM ET
Associated Press

PHILADELPHIA -- Donovan McNabb is a veteran in the rigors of rehab.

Donovan McNabb
Al Bello/Getty ImagesDonovan McNabb's availability for Philly's next game will not be decided until later in the week.

On the mend from a sprained ankle and thumb, the Philadelphia Eagles quarterback has returned from a broken ankle, sports hernia, and a knee injury during his lengthy career.

McNabb said Wednesday his ankle and thumb have improved and he is closer to getting back on the field than he was a week ago. But his availability for Sunday's game against the NFC West-leading Seattle Seahawks (7-4) is still uncertain.

"I feel a lot closer, but you have to be smart about the whole situation," he said.

The quarterback acknowledged that he's getting a bit anxious to return.

"I think I've gotten to the point where you have to just let frustration go," he said. "You focus on getting yourself back healthy to get out there and function well."

McNabb's comeback from any injury hasn't been simple.

With each game that he misses, controversy swirls. Seemingly every time he is sidelined, second-guessing about the five-time Pro Bowl pick's future begins. This injury, albeit not very serious, hasn't changed a thing.

"One thing that you have to understand is that people have short-term memories," McNabb said. "We've had a lot of success here."

McNabb was in the midst of a solid comeback from last year's serious knee injury before twisting his ankle and hurting his thumb against Miami. He had completed nearly 60 percent of his passes, thrown for 13 TDs and appeared to be regaining the mobility that made him so effective earlier in his career.

When McNabb went down, the calls began for the offense to be turned over to backup A.J. Feeley, or even new draft pick Kevin Kolb.

Talk of a switch only intensified following Feeley's strong-armed showing in a 31-28 loss to the undefeated New England Patriots on Sunday night. Feeley had career bests in completions (27) and yards passing (345) and threw three TD passes.

"Any time a new quarterback comes in and plays well, you're going to have a little bit of a controversy," running back Brian Westbrook said after praising Feeley's effort. "Everybody seems to feel the grass is greener on the other side.

"I still have confidence in Donovan, and I have confidence in A.J."

McNabb watched Feeley's performance from home and acknowledged that his backup had a good game.

Coach Andy Reid, too, has been quick to credit Feeley for his performance. He has been just as quick to defuse any talk of a quarterback controversy.

Reid has shown unwavering support for McNabb and said he will be his starting QB against the Seahawks, if he is healthy.

"When Donovan's ready to come back physically then he'll be the starting quarterback," Reid said Wednesday. "Let's not confuse words here."

Feeley has also been saying all the right things, calling the Eagles "Donovan's team," and saying there are "no egos involved." He's also staying prepared, just in case he's called upon this weekend.

"Until he steps on the practice field, I'll approach it as I'm the guy," said Feeley, who completed 27 of 42 passes against the Pats.

Reid said McNabb's ankle has been more troublesome than his thumb, but the quarterback is "getting better." He said McNabb's ankle was tender and puffy Wednesday, a day after a tough workout.

"It's frustrating the heck out of him," Reid said.

McNabb has tried not to let the talk of Feeley's pinpoint passing, the Eagles' solid offensive showing against New England, or the fickle Philly fans affect his outlook. In fact, he took the offensive in his weekly news conference.

"We've had tempo while I was in," McNabb said. "We had execution while I was in there. It really doesn't matter who is in there, you just need to be able to execute plays.

"We've had games in which we've driven the ball down the field consistently and scored points. It just so happened that on Sunday night, the team was making plays, guys were having a good time."


Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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