Kevin Kolb will never forget April, 2010.
The life-changing month began for Kolb on Easter Sunday, April 4, when he got the call from head coach Andy Reid telling him that the Eagles had traded Donovan McNabb to the Washington Redskins and were handing the quarterback keys over to Kolb. Then, mid-month, Kolb and his wife Whitney welcomed daughter Atley Rose, their second child. And finally, to cap it off, with only two days left in April, Kolb signed a one-year contract extension through the 2011 season with the Eagles worth a reported $12.26 million over the two years, all of it guaranteed.
"It's been a good month," Kolb said in his usually understated fashion. "I know there's a lot of responsibility and a lot of things to come with it, but I'm excited about it and looking forward to it.
"Now that I'm back in the groove of being a starter and dealing with things, and then getting this out of the way, it feels right, and everything else has felt right up to this point and I know that it will in the future. I'm very comfortable here. I'm very comfortable in the city of Philadelphia and nobody's more excited than me and my wife for hopefully sticking around here for a long time."
So much of the Eagles' identity as a football team has changed over the past 30 days, but, as the players head into this weekend's mandatory mini-camp and welcome in a rookie class that includes a franchise record 13 draft picks, Kolb says he believes this group of players can achieve greatness.
"It does feel very special," he said. "I don't think it's just because now I'm the starter. I think everybody can kind of sense that there's just kind of this united feeling between everybody and we're all kind of young and even though we haven't even hit the field together as core group, you can just kind of sense that ... we've got this energy that we're just going to go out there and, you know, prove a lot of people wrong."
But Kolb isn't shaken by the expectations heaped upon him by the organization. Rather, he's making sure to be both a calming influence to the younger players and to reward the Eagles for their faith in him.
"I feel like with a lot of the young guys, they don't need jitters, they need somebody as a calming hand there," he said. "And even though I'm only going into my fourth year, I feel like I've been around as long as a lot of these guys. So I look forward to helping them get lined up in the right situation and provide as much experience and knowledge about what we're trying to do as anybody else out there.
"You never want to let anybody down, and you especially don't want to let somebody down whenever they have put that much faith in you and they've made those moves to make you the guy. So, that's a driven force for me and it gives me more energy and more emotion to go out there and make this thing right, so that's my number one focus is going to get a Super Bowl and proving everybody right."
The nature of the new contract, extending his current deal by only a single year, is configured as it is because of the current CBA rules in this uncapped year. Until a new collective bargaining agreement is reached, new contracts cannot give players a raise of more than 30 percent of their previous yearly salary. So the one-year extension provides Kolb with the assurance that he's the man, while also biding time until a longer-term deal can be worked out.
"This is a way for us to bridge the gap," he said. "I want to be here long-term, I think the Eagles want me to be here long-term, but there's really just no way to get it done right now and this is a way for both sides to be happy, and I am very happy."
The other obvious gap that needs to be bridged is the one from McNabb to Kolb, and Kolb has helped get that process started already as he's been a mainstay at the NovaCare Complex all off-season, working out with his teammates in the gym and on the practice field.
"Just this week in particular we went out there and threw two different days and just kind of got our own collective thing together," he said. "It wasn't scheduled, we just did it together and just trying to get as much chemistry right off the bat as we possibly can, you know. I know there's going to be some cobwebs when we go out there tomorrow, but we want things to run as smoothly as possible and that's why we've been working together, that's why we've been lifting together. This off-season, again, is very important for those types of things and I think everybody's done a really good job of showing up and being around."
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 5:56 p.m., April 29