Philadelphia Eagles News

FS Brian Dawkins

On how Christmas has changed for him over the years: "Christmas has changed for me just what you said, just family by having the little ones in the house with my older kids. I've always wanted a big family to have that, to have that feeling of such joy and celebration. And we understand what the season is really for, having that family and the whole excitement of it, but that energy from those little ones is huge thing in our household."

On whether it is tough for him to have to be working during the holiday season: "I'm used to it now. It's been so long and I've been blessed to play this game so long that you're used to doing it. When we decorate the tree or put the lights outside, we have our little rituals that we like to do as a family that we enjoy."

On whether being selected to the Pro Bowl this year means more to him than other years: "I won't say more. When I got the news from (head coach) Andy (Reid) it almost felt like my first time, how excited I was. Just knowing how much that I have been through these last couple of years with the birth of my babies and all the things I went through with the injuries and all the questions surrounding me and my play, of my age. So many things have gone on that I've had to stay strong through with my faith that this is definitely a blessing from above."

On whether he thinks about this being the last year of his contract when he's on the playing field: "Not really. I told you guys that we'll take care of those things when those things are there to be taken care of. All I can do is control what I can control and that's my play on the field and make whatever decision that has to be made one of the most difficult ones that they've ever had to make. That's always been my plan, not just because of this year, but that's always been plan to handle what I can handle."

On what this Pro Bowl is a testament to: "I think it's a couple of things that I can point to. Absolutely mental toughness. But this thing, I will call these situations, that I had to go through challenges my faith and who I was leaning on. And I had to lean on something outside of myself to get through all of this, I really did. And the times that I questioned myself, questioned my abilities, questioned my neck, can I come back? When all those questions began to come up, I had to be able to lean on something and I leaned on faith. It wasn't faith in me either. If I had faith in just me then I wouldn't be sitting in front of you. I would have probably tried to retire because I didn't think that I could do it, but I have faith in something higher in the end. He gave me the strength to get through all of that and be able to play at a high level and continue to play at a high level. I know that I'm going to make mistakes, but it's just a blessing to be able to do what I'm doing for this team and have coaches like (defensive coordinator) Jim (Johnson) and (secondary coach) Sean (McDermott) and Andy that still have confidence in me."

On whether there are any defensive players that he thinks should have been selected to the Pro Bowl: "Obviously, everybody is going to point to (DE) Trent (Cole). He's had a good year. But you can call me biased or whatever you want to call me, but I think (CB) Sheldon (Brown). He puts up great ball every year and for whatever reason doesn't get consideration and this year in particular. (S) Quintin (Mikell) has had a great year from my side looking on it. I'm talking about Quintin Mikell that is or 'Q' as we call him. He's had a great year. The ball that he has been playing on the football field, the big hits, the big play, just at times talking about San Fran, all those things, he's been having a great year. Obviously, (RB) Brian Westbrook. I can't stop there without saying B. West. You can't tell me that there is anybody more important to their team when he is healthy. What he does on the football field, I think, is unmatched."

On how they are going to prepare for Redskins RB Clinton Portis considering he had been injured: "The thing that you have to do as a football player is don't get caught up in injuries. Sometimes that stuff is a smoke-screen, so we are going to prepare like he's 100 percent and if it turns out that he's not 100 percent, we're still going to treat him like he's 100 percent because that's the type of weapon that he is for that offense. And I've played against him long enough to understand what he brings to the table as far as physical mentality and being able to run that ball, especially in the fourth quarter during a close game."

On the Eagles defense being ranked as No. 3 in the league and No. 1 in the NFC and whether these next two games are the true barometer for what the defense really is: "I think you're probably going to say that I'm trying to avoid the question, but I think that when we played Arizona that was the barometer. We played the Giants, another one, and so forth and so on. Every week is the same thing for us. Every week will be that same way because of the fact that what we are, when we put ourselves in the hole we were trying to dig out of, every week was that same way and this week is no different. We know that this team is a different challenge than past weeks but it's a challenge nonetheless because of, like I said, where we put ourselves. We can't hang our hat on No. 3 right now. We have to go out and make sure that we are ready to play this physical bunch."

On whether it would be difficult to handle not making the playoffs because of how the defense is ranked: "The Washington Redskins is what's on our plate right now. And at the end of the year we can concentrate on or we can talk about whatever you guys want to talk about, but right now, it's the Washington Redskins, and we have to focus on that and not worry about anything after that."

On why they have been so good on third downs recently: "A lot of those things early on, we were making a lot of mental mistakes, way too many mental mistakes that were assisting other teams in converting. Now, give them credit, and I always say that, give them credit, but we were giving them assists. We're not making those mental mistakes (now). And we are winning on first and second downs, getting teams in third-and-long. If we can win on first and down and get you in third-and-long, then the playbook is open for Jim to call whatever he wants to call. Then, if we don't make mistakes, the likelihood of us getting off the field is very high."

On whether it makes it tough to know that a division rival like the Redskins, who aren't going to make the playoffs, could be the team to potentially knock them out of playoff contention: "We're not even considering it like that. I know you guys, you can do that. We have no room for that just like last week with Cleveland. 'They are coming in here, they're a dead bunch.' We didn't look at it like that. What you have to do as a football player is concentrate on the strengths of that team. And whatever you guys want to call them, I'll tell you what, if we go in there half-stepping, Portis will have about 200 yard rushing on us, (WR) Santana (Moss) will have a 200 yard game, and (TE Chris) Cooley will kill us with 15 catches. So, we can't go into any game considering any team out of it because pride, I'm pretty sure pride in that locker room is not dead. Not more difficult because the way we've looked at it for a long time now, especially the last three games, is these are playoff games for us, period. So no matter what any other team, whatever ammunition they try to build up from us themselves, that has nothing to do with what we are thinking in our locker room. We are thinking this is a playoff game and we've approached every game for the last, I guess, three or four games like that."

On what challenges Cooley presents: "Cooley is one of the better tight ends in this game. It's a huge challenge, and I believe that we will be up to it. He's a physical guy, crafty route runner, and can make tough catches and break tackles, is one of the things that he does very well, breaks tackles. So, it's a huge challenge for us. I'll think that we'll be up for it."

On whether he thinks both sides of the football are currently playing the best football that they've played all year: "Yes, I would say that. And special teams, don't shut those guys out. I think every unit is playing some pretty good ball right now. Obviously, every game you are going to look back and say, 'We should have done this, and I wish we would have done this. We shouldn't have turned the ball over there, we shouldn't have given up that big pass,' because the other team gets paid also, so they are going to make plays. But as a whole, I think that we are playing some pretty good ball. I think that we are playing good ball at the right time right now. We're not hanging our hat on what we've done last week. But we are confident that we are going to keep this thing moving in a positive direction because of that, just the confidence that we are playing with right now, not anything outside of this confidence. And if we do what we are supposed to do, handle our responsibilities, and come to play with emotion, the chances are very good for us."

On whether he thinks that QB Donovan McNabb has been playing with a chip on his shoulder since he was benched: "I would say yeah. And I think I've mentioned this before, you can do a couple of things once you are challenged. You can agree with those people, cower down, and not step up, but you can step up to meet the challenge head on and I think he did that. I think that he stepped up and met the challenge head on. Any time that you challenge a player, I think, of his magnitude, is someone who can get it done, frankly. They are going to step up and they are going to meet that challenge head on, and I think he's done that. I think, we, as teammates, that's what we expected from him anyway, and we had his back and we still have his back. This thing is not over with, and we are going to continue to have his back and that's one thing that I have grown to love about this team."

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