OK, so it was just one mid-November practice, and nobody is foolishly reading anything into it: Kevin Kolb took the first-team reps on Wednesday as Donovan McNabb was excused for personal reasons. McNabb is expected to be fine and all is well with him. Nothing to worry about. But giving Kolb a day of practice was welcomed by the kid, who looks for a chance to throw passes any way he can get it.
"It's better than not getting any at all," said Kolb after practice. "Whenever it happens and I get out on the field and get into the offense, it definitely helps me out. It felt smooth today. I had a good tempo. I look forward to getting chances any time I can get them."
Some day, some where, Kolb is going to have a full-fledged opportunity to be the guy. He was a second-round draft pick by the Eagles in 2007 and since then has played a bunch in the preseason and only a speck in the regular season. It wouldn't be the least bit fair to make any judgment on Kolb, other than to say he has matured very nicely in the mental part of the game. Kolb has played the game between his ears for most of two seasons now. He has been in all the meetings, has been challenged by the coaches to read and react what he sees in the classroom.
He is just about there, just about ready.
"I think I'm pretty close," said Kolb, when asked how much he felt he had the system down mentally. "It's kind of a trick question, though, because you don't know how you are going to do when you get in there. I watch the game from the sidelines and see the defense do things and I wonder to myself, 'Would I have seen that? How would I have reacted to that?' You don't know until you go out and do it.
"The focus here isn't on me. It's on winning football games. Donovan is doing a great job and he is the man here. I understand the situation. At the same time, you always want to play. Everybody wants to play."
Kolb came in against the Steelers when McNabb was dinged with his chest contusion and immediately started throwing the football around. Kolb competed 2 of 3 passes for 18 yards in his brief time. He was picked off once, when a dart to tight end L.J. Smith was just a little too close to the defender. The only other action came in mop-up duty in the opener when Kolb completed 5 of 6 passes for 53 yards against the Rams.
In a season when some young quarterbacks are providing immediately success for their teams -- Matt Ryan in Atlanta and Joe Flacco in Baltimore -- Kolb remains in the shadows.
"That is my job right now. I have to be ready if I am needed, so I prepare to play every week," he said. "It's tough. I want to play. But I'm a competitor. I love to play football."
Kolb is going to be a very big story at some point for the Eagles. It is actually kind of remarkable how things have worked out for the position, as so many folks predicted Kolb would be the starter already. But both McNabb and Kolb have shown tremendous resolve and camaraderie to get to this point: McNabb is playing well, the offense is scoring points and Kolb is a dutiful second in command.
For the second-year quarterback, days like Wednesday, when he is able to take the field for all of the practice reps, the payment will come in a bright, albeit uncertain, future.
NEWS, NOTES AND THIS AND THAT
- To back up just how well the offensive line has played in pass protection, the team has allowed a sack every 26.6 pass plays, which is the best mark in team history. The Eagles have permitted 13 sacks and have recorded 28. That plus-15 is tied for third-best in the NFL.
- The Eagles have to make some hay on first and second downs on Sunday and have a lot of third-and-short yardage situations. Cincinnati ranks 31st in the league with a 49.2 percent success rate on third down.
- I know the offense hasn't played to its abilities and the problems on short-yardage plays are well documented, but the Eagles are still averaging 27.9 points per game, fourth in the NFL. That's an important number, no matter how you slice it.
- The Eagles need Reggie Brown to be more of a factor in the passing game. He is healthy and he is ready to be more of a target. The Eagles must take the pressure away from Brian Westbrook and DeSean Jackson to put up big numbers in every game.
- How good and consistent is Jon Runyan? He has started 185 straight regular-season games (130 as an Eagle) and since 2006 has committed just 5 penalties. Pretty outstanding.