NFC East: Jeff Garcia

Mailbag: Free agency on the brain

March, 17, 2012
3/17/12
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All that's been on anyone's mind this week is free agency and college basketball. We'll skip the hoops questions in this week's mailbag and try and stick to that first thing. If you don't mind.

Barry from DC is concerned that he hasn't heard more about the Washington Redskins trying to sign offensive linemen.

Dan Graziano: Clearly, Barry, wide receiver was their first priority (after quarterback, of course, which is fixed through the draft). Then they got to work on the secondary. But I agree with you that right tackle and left guard remain areas of concern. Reports out of Washington say they had tackle Demetrius Bell in for a visit Friday, and everything I'm told indicates they're interested in tackle Eric Winston (though he spent a lot of time with the Chiefs this week). They weren't in the mix seriously for Carl Nicks or Ben Grubbs at guard. They may not land any big O-line names, but I know they're looking to add, and they're targeting guys they think can work well in their zone-blocking run game schemes.

Like a lot of people, Jason from Bryn Mawr, PA gives the Dallas Cowboys a lot of credit for the moves they've made so far in free agency. He wonders if the focused, targeted approach they're taking reflects coach Jason Garrett's influence on personnel decisions.

DG: I do, Jason. I think you saw that begin last year, when the Cowboys cut players like Roy Williams and Marion Barber in order to go with more sensible options. I think you saw it this year with the overhaul of the coaching staff that got rid of some long-timers and replaced them with fresh faces. I believe Jerry Jones really wants Garrett to succeed and is willing to let him run the team his way, and I believe that means Garrett has a great deal of say in the kinds of players the team is pursuing. Things are making more sense in Dallas than Jones' old reputation usually leads people to believe they are.

George from Lexington, VA is watching the New York Giants sign free agents "to modest contracts so that they can fill specific roles in their system" and asks whether their approach is at all similar to the Billy Beane Oakland A's model that inspired the book and movie "Moneyball."

DG: I think it's an imperfect comparison, George. "Moneyball" is the story of a low-revenue team trying to find a way to compete in a game that has no salary cap and was at the time heavily tilted in favor of the high-revenue teams. The NFL's salary cap eliminates this problem by effectively eliminating the concept of low-revenue teams. All NFL teams are rolling in money, and those that don't spend as much as the others do so by choice. The Giants have been right up against the cap the last two years as a result of some big contracts that would make Billy Beane pass out, so part of the reason they haven't made big free-agent moves is because they're unable to. But I think the main reason the Giants are so comfortable with their simple moves is their belief in their coaching staff and the veteran-inspired environment in their locker room. They really believe they can find most of their solutions internally, because they believe their program develops prospects into good players. And they've been proven right a lot in recent years.

Now, when I do the mailbag, I like to make sure all four teams are represented. But man, was it hard to find a Philadelphia Eagles question this week. I scrolled back and scrolled back through Redskins question after Redskins question, and the first Eagles questions I found were from March 11! Thomas Hanson from D.C. asking if the Eagles would bring back Kevin Kolb as Michael Vick's backup if the Cardinals let Kolb go and gwh from Downingtown, PA asking if Donovan McNabb would be open to coming back as Vick's backup and if the Eagles would consider that.

DG: Obviously, since these questions came in, Arizona has decided to stick with Kolb, so that's out. And I guess, if there is an NFL team out there that would consider giving McNabb a job (and we have no proof that there is at this point), the Eagles would be a leading candidate. I thought the two best backup quarterback options were Jason Campbell and Kyle Orton, but they got snatched up right away by the Bears and Cowboys. The Eagles make that position a priority, as you know, and they're surely looking around for better options than Mike Kafka and Trent Edwards. But the list of the remaining candidates isn't awe-inspiring. David Garrard may be the best of a bunch that includes Rex Grossman, Shaun Hill, Jake Delhomme, Dennis Dixon and old friend Jeff Garcia.

Anyway, Eagles fans, come on! Where are the questions?

Quick Take: Giants at 49ers

January, 15, 2012
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Three things to know about next week's NFC Championship Game between the New York Giants and the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park:

1. Another rematch. The 49ers beat the Giants 27-20 on Nov. 13 in San Francisco. The Giants were 6-2 heading into that game, and the loss began a four-game losing streak from which they nearly didn't recover. The Giants gained 395 against that tough San Francisco defense that day, including an impressive 93 on the ground without an injured Ahmad Bradshaw. But Eli Manning threw two interceptions to go with his 311 passing yards, and that was the difference in the game. As was the case in Green Bay on Sunday, Manning must make sure to limit turnovers against a 49ers defense that likes to take advantage of them.

2. Stop the run. The Giants didn't have Bradshaw for that game, but the 49ers also didn't really have top running back Frank Gore, who rushed the ball six times for zero yards and missed most of the game with an ankle injury. He's back and healthy now, and a great threat in the run game to go along with Kendall Hunter. The 49ers are different from the teams the Giants have been playing lately, in that they're not a high-powered passing offense with tons of downfield weapons. The Giants will have to stay tough and disciplined up front. They need to lean on their pass rush to rattle Alex Smith, sure, but they may have to dial down their usual aggressiveness in this one.

3. Playoff history: The Giants are 3-4 all-time against the 49ers in the postseason, including some memorable and classic games. The most recent playoff matchup was nine years ago -- the game in which the Giants had a 38-14 lead in the third quarter but gave up 25 straight points and lost to Jeff Garcia. The last time the Giants won a playoff game in San Francisco was the NFC Championship Game on Jan. 20, 1991 to advance to the Super Bowl in which they would defeat the Buffalo Bills.

Friday Beastlines

June, 25, 2010
6/25/10
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Let's take a quick look around the division:

Cowboys

  • Will the Cowboys tweak their uniforms this season? Richie Whitt of the Dallas Observer has this report.
Eagles

  • Fortunately for us, Sheil Kapadia of Moving The Chains blog refuses to take a day off. He's wondering if the Eagles have any "elite" players.
Giants

Redskins

  • Paul Tenorio of the Post says Maake Kemoeatu was looking forward to learning from Albert Haynesworth. He also reports that Kemoeatu weighs 358 pounds.

Tuesday Beastlines: Phillips ready to go

April, 14, 2010
4/14/10
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Dallas Cowboys

New York Giants

Philadelphia Eagles

  • The Philadelphia Daily News takes a look at the top player, riser and sleeper among cornerbacks and safeties in next week's draft.
  • Free agent quarterback Jeff Garcia confirmed reports his agent has been in contact with the Eagles, but said there has been no contract offer yet.
Washington Redskins

Eagles interested in Garcia?

April, 12, 2010
4/12/10
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With Donovan McNabb being traded to the Redskins, conventional wisdom (and the current roster) suggests that Michael Vick will back up Kevin Kolb in Philly. But if the Eagles are somehow able to unload Vick, then former Eagles quarterback Jeff Garcia would certainly be a viable candidate as the No. 2.

Les Bowen of the Daily News has reported that both the Eagles and Garcia's representatives have discussed this scenario. Would you guys feel more comfortable with Garcia backing up Kolb than Vick? I've always admired Garcia's competitive fire, but I'm not sure he's the best guy to have behind Kolb. Guys such as Jon Kitna have embraced their roles as mentors to young quarterbacks. But Garcia will always see himself as a starter.

Now I'd like to hear from you guys.

Niners purchase pre-owned Carr

March, 8, 2010
3/08/10
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It's now official that the New York Giants need a replacement for backup quarterback David Carr -- since he signed with the 49ers over the weekend. As we discussed Sunday, former Colts backup Jim Sorgi will be in East Rutherford, N.J., for a workout with the Giants today.

Sorgi, a sixth-round pick by the Colts in '04, is probably a better option than aging quarterbacks such as Jeff Garcia and Mark Brunell. But don't underestimate Tom Coughlin's love of Brunell after they worked together in Jacksonville. The best thing about Sorgi is that he's spent six years serving as Peyton Manning's understudy. I assume that he's bumped into Eli a time or two during that period, so it would probably be an easy transition.

Garcia would be the wrong fit because he's never truly accepted the idea of being a backup in the league. And for some teams, it's good to have a guy who's capable of making the starter uncomfortable. That's not the case with the Giants. Unless Sorgi's health is a concern (he's banged up a lot for a guy who rarely plays), I expect him to soon be on New York's roster.

Giants looking for a backup QB?

March, 5, 2010
3/05/10
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New York Giants unrestricted free agent quarterback David Carr will visit the 49ers this weekend, according to Mike Garafolo of the Star-Ledger. Carr's also expected to be in the mix with the Cardinals, so it's likely that his time with the Giants has come to a close. We'll soon find out how much faith the Giants have in former Oklahoma/Sam Houston quarterback Rhett Bomar.

Keep in mind that the Redskins just released backup quarterback Todd Collins, who led Washington to the playoffs in '08. And there's always the Jeff Garcia option, although he's never really fancied himself as a backup. Mark Brunell had a great influence in the Saints' locker room. He's be a good option -- as long as he wasn't called upon to play more than a game or two.

I think you'd feel a lot safer with Collins or Garcia. Then you could try to get Bomar ready for the No. 2 job. Here are some other candidates off the league's official unrestricted free-agent list: Panthers QB Josh McCown, Lions QB Patrick Ramsey, Texans QB Rex Grossman (likely headed to Redskins because of Kyle Shanahan), Dolphins QB Chad Pennington (Hmmm...), Steelers QB Charlie Batch, Rams QB Kyle Boller.

Another possibility is former Bills quarterback J.P. Losman.

Ex-Skins QBs in the Super Bowl

February, 2, 2010
2/02/10
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If you study the Saints' sideline Sunday, you'll see two former Redskins quarterbacks in Mark Brunell and Chase Daniel. Brunell started 33 games for Washington from 2004-07 before being released in 2008. Saints head coach Sean Payton was an assistant with the Cowboys when Daniel was a standout quarterback at local Southlake Carroll High School and watched him blossom into one of the nation's best at Missouri.

Here's what Payton had to say about Brunell's impact on the Saints:

"One thing we were looking for was someone [who] A) we felt could still play," Payton said. "It's one thing to say we want to have a mentor and yet our jobs as coaches is to make sure we're providing that. So it started with the question, do we feel like we have a vision for the player in Mark Brunell? We felt like his arm strength was still solid and [so was his] delivery and there's a confidence level about him in the huddle and in practice that is somewhat contagious. And I think that's a good trait to have when you're someone who could be called on at any time.

"So outside the evaluation process, the other things were things we felt real good about. He has been someone who's a key figure on this team and has a key role. He still works and prepares just like you would expect for any one of your players each week."

I think it's difficult for star quarterbacks to transition into a mentor role in this league but Brunell had done a really nice job. And I think you're also seeing the same thing with Jon Kitna with the Cowboys. Brunell obviously had more success than Kitna as a quarterback but they're at similar stages in their careers.

Another guy in that same age bracket, Jeff Garcia, has never really embraced the mentor role. He still wants to be a starter no matter who he's playing behind. And sometimes having a guy like that on the roster can be a motivating force for a young quarterback who needs to be pushed.

By the way, which backup would you take in this Super Bowl? Give me Brunell over the immortal Curtis Painter or the former Badger, Jim Sorgi.

Eagles make it look easy -- for a half

December, 27, 2009
12/27/09
11:30
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Jason Avant & Brent CelekBarbara Johnston/US PresswireBrent Celek and Jason Avant were part of an Eagles offense that sputtered in the fourth quarter.
PHILADELPHIA -- As we speak, the Philadelphia Eagles are the hottest team in the NFC. While the Vikings and Saints have stumbled down the stretch, the Eagles (11-4) keep stacking wins.

The hard part is figuring out how much to read into the Eagles' six-game winning streak. Midway through the third quarter Sunday at the Linc, I was ready to make them the odds-on favorite to reach the Super Bowl. They had pulled off one of their patented lightning-quick drives to go up 27-10 and it appeared the visiting Broncos were just about done. But a couple plays involving Eagles rookie Macho Harris turned the game around and the Eagles were forced to claw out a 30-27 win.

That the Eagles were able to survive this game speaks to their character, but it is not something they want to try on a weekly basis. This is the most explosive offense of the Andy Reid era. A couple of years ago, this offense would have gone in the tank without running back Brian Westbrook. But now he's merely a complementary piece in the Eagles' high-powered offense.

In the first half, the Broncos assigned All-Pro cornerback Champ Bailey to cover wide receiver DeSean Jackson at all times. Quarterback Donovan McNabb responded by hooking up with tight end Brent Celek four times for 121 yards and a touchdown. Matched up with a linebacker in the first quarter, Celek made a one-handed catch for 31 yards to set up the Eagles' second score.

The Broncos finally dropped into zone coverage in the second half and it paid immediate dividends when Bailey intercepted McNabb on the Eagles' second play from scrimmage. The Eagles answered when Jason Avant made a brilliant adjustment on a ball that was deflected by Broncos safety Renaldo Hill. Avant's touchdown put the Eagles up 27-10, and they appeared to seal things when cornerback Asante Samuel picked off Kyle Orton at the Eagles' 8 yard line. But Harris was called for unnecessary roughness during the return and Samuel was flagged for spiking the ball. The Broncos finally held the Eagles and started their next drive at Philadelphia's 25-yard line.

A stunned crowd watched the Broncos score two touchdowns in 49 seconds to pull within 27-24. The Eagles' offense went flat and the Broncos' blitzes started to bother McNabb. The Broncos tied the score with Matt Prater's 46-yard field goal with 6:11 left in the game and actually losing to Denver became a possibility for the Eagles.

Facing a third-and-25 on the ensuing drive, McNabb turned back the clock in racing 27 yards for a first down. The Eagles ended up punting on the drive, but McNabb's mad dash saved them from poor field position. When the Eagles got the ball back with 1:41 left, McNabb fired a 27-yard pass to rookie wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who was barely able to keep both feet in bounds.

"We work on that sideline drill every day in practice," Maclin said after the game. "It's hard when you come from college because you only have to get one [foot] down. But I knew had it all the way."

It was initially ruled an incomplete pass, but the call was overturned when the booth asked for a replay.

It was the third time this season the Eagles have either overcome a deficit or tie in the fourth quarter to win. That is the most they have had since 2006, when Jeff Garcia was filling in for an injured McNabb. And though it is a good sign that the Eagles are capable of winning close games, they certainly do not want to see large leads evaporate.

"It's something we can't keep doing," Celek said. "It takes a toll on you to keep putting yourself in that position week after week. I don't know why we seem to have the lulls here and there, but we need to get it fixed."

The Eagles could still overtake the Vikings (11-3) as the No. 2 playoff seed in the NFC. But right now they are focused on beating the Dallas Cowboys in Arlington, Texas next Sunday to win an outright NFC East title. Everything else will take care of itself.

Trotter's back in Philly, Garcia's out

September, 29, 2009
9/29/09
3:54
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Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley


Linebacker Jeremiah Trotter has agreed to a one-year contract with his old team, the Philadelphia Eagles, according to the team. Trotter was one of the most inspirational players on the team and he helped lead the Eagles to a Super Bowl appearance. He was released before the '07 season in a move that caused quarterback Donovan McNabb to take a few jabs at management.

Trotter had become a radio personality on the famed WIP in Philly, but now the 32-year-old will see if he has anything left on the football field. At his peak, Trotter was able to blitz up the middle and destroy centers and guards. He was a very physical player, but he had deficiencies in coverage. The Eagles released Trotter because they thought Omar Gaither was ready to take over at middle linebacker. Obviously that plan didn't quite work out.

To make room for Trotter, the Eagles released reserve quarterback Jeff Garcia, who'd been brought in while McNabb was injured and Michael Vick was suspended. The Eagles were going to have to release one of their quarterbacks and Garcia was the obvious choice -- especially after the way Kevin Kolb performed in his starts.

I think the Trotter signing will be well received by Eagles fans. I have no clue how much he has left in the tank. He wasn't moving around that well when the Eagles released him two years ago.

The Vick debut: What will we learn?

September, 24, 2009
9/24/09
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Ed Mulholland/US Presswire
Andy Reid will have his first opportunity to use the Wildcat formation with Michael Vick.

Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley


The Philadelphia Eagles have gone to great lengths to suggest that the signing of quarterback Michael Vick is about providing a man a second chance. Owner Jeff Lurie, a self-professed dog lover, has suggested that Vick can be an agent for change in the fight against animal cruelty.

But Sunday afternoon at the Linc, we can finally get to the heart of why Vick was signed. Eagles coach Andy Reid, a descendant of the Bill Walsh coaching tree, watched what the Dolphins were doing with the Wildcat formation last season and became insanely jealous. Yes, Reid's personal struggles with his troubled sons might have played some role in his desire to sign Vick, but the main reason was that he thought the former Falcons quarterback had the skills to be the most dangerous Wildcat quarterback in the game.

This isn't so much a story of redemption as it is an opportunity for a so-called offensive guru to greedily make up for lost time. See, guys from the Walsh coaching tree aren't fond of being outwitted by the likes of David Lee and Tony Sparano (Bill Parcells/Tom Coughlin tree). I believe that Reid's ego got the best of him -- and so he had to have the ultimate Wildcat weapon in Vick. None of these knockoff models such as Pat White in Miami or even DeSean Jackson from his own roster did the trick.

What Vick brings to the table other than considerable personal baggage is a rocket arm that could potentially strike fear in the hearts of defensive coordinators. In his two preseason appearances, Vick showed that his arm strength is still there. Interestingly, it's his legs we're worried about at this point. In the preseason, he didn't show the same burst that made him one of league's truly special players earlier this decade.

Reid's not saying how he will deploy his quarterbacks Sunday, but I think it's safe to say that three quarterbacks -- Kevin Kolb, Jeff Garcia and Vick -- will be active for the game. Vick's not prepared to be a full-time quarterback at this stage of his comeback, and that's why I think Garcia will be listed as the backup for Sunday's game.

Peter King reported that Reid will have a 10-play Wildcat package for Vick on Sunday. But if the Eagles have some success early in the game, I wouldn't be surprised to see Vick in there for 12-15 snaps. Could that potentially disrupt Kolb's tempo? Sure it could, but Reid doesn't care about that.

When you make a huge move such as signing the most polarizing player this side of Terrell Owens, you're not going to ease him into things. Reid believes that he has made a brilliant move and he is eager to prove that to all his doubters. Despite all his emotionless news conferences, this is a prideful man who would like to stick it in his critics' faces. In fact, Reid is a huge admirer of Parcells -- and the two have more similarities than one might think.

The problem for Reid is that defensive coordinators spent a large part of the offseason figuring how to stop the Wildcat. I keep reading about how the signing of Vick has required opposing teams to spend hours preparing for him, which robs them of precious time from preparing for the Eagles' McNabb-led base offense. With all due respect to the men and women who've introduced that theory, I think it's an absolute crock. Every time Vick comes jogging onto the field, the Eagles lose the element of surprise. Do we really think that Kolb lining up at wide receiver causes defensive backs to break out in a sweat? I'm told that Kolb ran some nice zoom routes during walkthroughs at the University of Houston, but something tells me the Chiefs will have an answer for him.

I think Reid has set himself up for failure on a couple levels. If the Vick Wildcat is just moderately successful, then everyone will say the signing wasn't worth all the potential distractions. But let's say Vick has a game early in the season where he tears it up and contributes to an Eagles win. It's not like Eagles fans need a lot of encouragement to turn on McNabb.

I still believe that at some point this season there will be pressure on Reid to replace McNabb with Vick. That could come as a result of poor play or nagging injuries. Either way, it's not going to be pretty. And all fingers will be pointed at the benevolent head coach. Even Vick expressed some doubt in the viability of the formation Wednesday.

"It really helped our football team reach a certain plateau that we wanted to reach," Vick told Philly reporters, referring to his 2006 season with the Falcons. "Down the stretch, it kind of wore itself out, and it wasn't as productive as it was in the first half of the season. It can be a part of your offense, but not a major part of your offense."

You sort of half-expected Reid to show up at any minute and yank Vick from the podium. I think the coach is looking forward to "wearing out" the formation -- and it all starts Sunday against the Chiefs. If you're looking for a prediction, I think Vick will participate in eight plays out of the Wildcat formation and he'll run for a touchdown and complete two short passes.

As long as the Eagles win, Reid will continue increasing Vick's workload. So what happens if the Eagles lose at home to the Chiefs?

Reid doesn't want any part of that question.

What will Vick's Wildcat package look like?

September, 22, 2009
9/22/09
8:00
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Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley

On Thursday I'm planning to write a column about the impact Michael Vick will have on the offense the rest of the season. I've already talked to a couple of NFL scouts who have made some prediction about how this whole thing will go down Sunday against the Chiefs.

But for now, check out Les Bowen's story in the Daily News regarding the Wildcat package. Sounds like Andy Reid's already getting a little defensive about his use of the Wildcat formation. He snapped at reporters when they guessed (apparently) wrong at how many times the Eagles used the Wildcat. It was 12, by the way.

Peter King of SI.com has already reported that the Eagles have a 10-play package for Vick. But here's what my gut's telling me about Sunday. I think you'll see Vick on the field for eight plays -- three of them near the goal line. Will it disrupt the Eagles' offense? Well, we're about to find out.

Kevin Kolb is wisely saying that he's excited about seeing Vick on the field. It's not like he has much of a choice. Interesting that Jeff Garcia has already criticized the formation a bit. I'm sure Reid appreciated that feedback.

Looks like Kolb will start again Sunday

September, 22, 2009
9/22/09
9:53
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Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley


Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb told ESPN's Sal Paolantonio that he was still in pain and that he didn't know if he'd be able to play Sunday against the Chiefs. Eagles coach Andy Reid has already said that Kevin Kolb will be the starter if McNabb's not ready to go. That means that Kolb and Michael Vick will likely be the two main quarterbacks against the Chiefs. Jeff Garcia would be the emergency quarterback.

"There is still pain," McNabb told ESPN on Monday. "With these rib injuries, I don't know. It's Monday. We'll see how it goes."

The Eagles have a bye week after the Chiefs game, so it makes sense to rest McNabb in this game. There's also the fact that first-year Chiefs coach Todd Haley doesn't have much talent to work with. If the Eagles can't beat the Chiefs at Lincoln Financial Field without McNabb, then their problem will run much deeper than just quarterback. I'd also be surprised to see Brian Westbrook out there Sunday. Why not give him an extra week to respond to a high ankle sprain?

Kolb's starting against the Saints

September, 20, 2009
9/20/09
11:29
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Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley


It should come as no surprise to you that Kevin Kolb will make his first and perhaps final start for the Eagles today against the Saints. Eagles coach Andy Reid hedged his bets a little during the week by not ruling out Donovan McNabb (rib), but it was pretty obvious that Kolb would get the starting nod.

As I've said several times, I think Kolb will perform well in leading the Eagles to a win over the Saints. It's actually a good spot for Kolb because the Saints have a suspect defense. I think he'd really have to play poorly for Reid to yank him out of the game in favor of Jeff Garcia.

So what happens if Kolb plays poorly today and the Eagles lose? Would the Eagles stick with Garcia for the rest of the season? I'll let you guys decide.

Eagles' McNabb doubtful for Saints game

September, 18, 2009
9/18/09
3:28
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Posted by ESPN.com's Matt Mosley


The Eagles have listed quarterback Donovan McNabb as doubtful for Sunday's game and it appears that Kevin Kolb will make the first start of his career. Coach Andy Reid said there was the possibility that McNabb (rib) could participate in the walk-through practice Saturday.

"It's hard because he made improvements every day here, so you don't know exactly where he'll be by that time," Reid told reporters Friday.

Reid also said he thought the rib was "sticky," which means it has likely settled down and wouldn't float around while McNabb was playing.

If McNabb's not ready, Kolb will start and Jeff Garcia will serve as his backup.

Reid also said that defensive end Victor Abiamiri (groin) is questionable with a groin sprain. Quintin Demps (hamstring) and Joe Mays (shoulder) have both been ruled out for Sunday's game.

If Abiamiri's unable to play, Jason Babin would probably be activated for Sunday's game.

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