In this shortest of short weeks, the Eagles had a light practice on Monday, started game-planning for the Cardinals and did everything they could to get their bodies ready for Thursday night's game. They had massages and ice baths and as much rest as they could cram into the few hours between the end of the loss in Baltimore and the moment they reported to the NovaCare Complex.
There is a lot going on with this football team and, obviously, the news that Donovan McNabb will start against Arizona tops the list. Neither McNabb nor Kevin Kolb, who played the second half in Baltimore, spoke to the horde of reporters who jammed the locker room on Monday. McNabb has his weekly scheduled press conference on Tuesday, which will be well attended.
Anyway, we can debate the merits of Andy Reid's move on Sunday and of the decision to start McNabb on Thursday, but I need the break. I want to see how it works out. Besides, there are other things to talk about with this team ...
- It is abundantly clear that the Eagles want to give Brent Celek a chance to earn his bones at tight end. He started on Sunday and caught 3 passes for 26 yards. L.J. Smith played in the two tight-end set and caught one pass. I can't tell you too much accurately about the blocking performance, but I think both could improve in that area. Tight end has been a disappointment this season, no doubt about it. The Eagles haven't gotten the production they want in this offense. It's going to be extremely interesting to see how the Eagles handle the position in the months ahead.
- Victor Abiamiri played anywhere from 25-30 snaps and did a very good job. I have seen him improve in the last two weeks. Abiamiri missed the preseason and the early season and he is coming on. There is no doubt about it. How much Abiamiri improves from this point forward is a huge key. The Eagles would benefit greatly from more development from a player who is big enough to play both end and tackle. Good to see that Abiamiri recorded his first quarterback. Sometimes, once a player gets a taste he gets on a roll.
- Akeem Jordan started at the WILL position and played well. He aggressively attacked the line of scrimmage, was physical and did a good job in coverage. I'm not sure if Jordan remains the starter, because the Eagles are still high on Omar Gaither. My perspective is that the young linebackers have played pretty well this year, but I'm still looking for more big plays. Where are the interceptions with this group? Not just this year, but in some years past.
- Overlooked in the quarterback drama was the fact that the defense held tight end Todd Heap to 2 catches and 26 yards. Bummer that Daniel Wilcox caught a 1-yard touchdown pass.
- Dan Klecko has come a long, long way at fullback. He looked OK catching the football in Baltimore.
- It is time to give Quintin Demps some reps within the defense. All he has done is go out and dominate in special-teams coverage -- the play he made as a gunner on Sav Rocca's first punt was outstanding -- and provide a much-needed big-play threat on kickoff returns. The Eagles must find out about Demps as a safety this season so they have a sense of what they are working with in 2009. Rookies who make plays generally have a very bright future. I know that's common sense, but ...
- Speaking of Rocca, he is back on track. Rocca averaged 48.5 yards on his punts Sunday. I didn't like the touchback, but Rocca is generally solid in that area. Looking back, the Eagles made the right decision to keep Rocca over Dirk Johnson, who visits as a member of the Cardinals on Thursday.
- Great test for the Eagles secondary against Arizona. No way they can lay back against those Arizona wide receivers. Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald, along with Steve Breaston, are just too good after they catch the football. The Eagles need to be aggressive and play with confidence. I didn't like the way the Ravens scored on that 53-yard catch and run from Mark Clayton. The Eagles blitzed a safety and then the Ravens made them pay.
- All I can say about DeSean Jackson is that he is a PLAYER. Tough, confident, works hard. Jackson has done everthing right as a rookie. He makes a mistake here and there like every player, but Jackson is terrific. He has totally dispelled everything the pre-draft rumors said about him. Love the kid.
- So let me say this about Kolb and his performance: I know he made a poor pass into the end zone and I know he was 10 of 23 throwing the football. But he came out gunning, he ran the huddle well and handled himself like a pro after the game. I have no doubts about Kolb's arm or his athletic ability or his smarts. We just have to see how he learns from his debut.
- Seven penalties, 64 yards for the Eagles against Baltimore. Can't have that.
- Getting back to Kolb, and I know I'm just kind of thinking out loud, but as I watch Drew Brees with the Saints I think that Kolb plays a similar style as Brees. Whether he ever becomes that proficient is the big question.
- I think the Eagles are one butt-kicker up front from being a dominating defense. They have something to work with on defense. If Abiamiri can continue to progress, and if Bryan Smith can be as good as I think he can be -- based on the preseason, and based on what people tell me -- the Eagles can be very good up front. They already are quite good. You could say the Washington game, the Giants game and a piece of a game here and there are the only down moments for the defensive front seven this season. They must pressure Kurt Warner on Thursday or it will be a tough night for the defense.
- Final word: I hope Eagles fans support McNabb on Thursday night. He has been such a positive force for this franchise and for this city for 10 season. He has given us all a lot. He could use the love on Thursday.