McNabb shines in return from knee surgery vs. Panthers

Updated: August 18, 2007, 12:45 AM ET
Aassociated Press

PHILADELPHIA -- Donovan McNabb did everything but scramble.

Playing his first game since tearing a knee ligament last November, McNabb put on an aerial display in the first quarter of the Philadelphia Eagles' preseason game against the Carolina Panthers on Friday night.

The five-time Pro Bowl quarterback completed 6-of-9 passes for 138 yards, including a 58-yard strike to tight end Matt Schobel. He led the Eagles to 10 points on four possessions before giving way to backup A.J. Feeley.

"I tried to treat it just like practice," McNabb said. "We were able to make some plays, get some guys involved."

Wearing a bulky protective brace on his surgically repaired right knee, McNabb hardly needed to escape the pocket. He was flushed out to the right once and threw an incomplete pass. On his final play, McNabb was sacked by Stanley McClover and Thomas Davis. He got right up and walked to the sideline.

Overall, it was an impressive return for McNabb, who went down in Week 11 last season against the Tennessee Titans.

"I have a long way to go, but the exciting part is just what we can do," McNabb said. "I tried to get us back to the point where we were when I left. Hopefully we can get back to that, but it's going to take some time."

McNabb came out firing, completing a 27-yard pass to Kevin Curtis on the first play from scrimmage. He connected with Jason Avant for a 16-yard gain on the next play, before his fourth attempt fell incomplete.

On Philadelphia's second possession, McNabb tossed an 18-yard pass to tight end Brent Celek. He then hit Schobel in stride with a perfect pass over two defenders down the right side. Schobel was tackled at the Panthers' 3, and Tony Hunt ran in on the next play to give the Eagles a 10-0 lead.

McNabb sat out Philadelphia's preseason opener at Baltimore four days ago. He got a standing ovation from the sparse home crowd that was inside Lincoln Financial Field by the time he ran on for the first series.

Sporting a shaved head, McNabb came out about 90 minutes before kickoff. He played catch, chatted with a few Panthers and was one of the last players to leave the field following pregame warmups.

"It was good to see all the fans come out, and I just want to thank them for the support they've given me throughout the whole rehab process," McNabb said.

McNabb was having one of the best statistical seasons of his eight-year career before he got injured last Nov. 19. He finished with 2,647 yards passing, 18 TDs, six interceptions and a passer rating of 95.5.

Jeff Garcia filled in for McNabb, leading the Eagles to five straight wins down the stretch, the NFC East title and a playoff victory.

The Eagles surprised quite a few people, including McNabb, by picking quarterback Kevin Kolb in the second round with their first selection in the NFL draft. But McNabb is clearly the starter for as long as he's healthy.

The 30-year-old McNabb has led the Eagles to four NFC Championship Games and a Super Bowl loss in eight seasons in Philadelphia. He's finished the regular season on the sidelines three of the past five years, one reason why the team drafted Kolb.

Garcia signed a free-agent contract with Tampa Bay.

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