Donovan McNabb and defensive coordinator Jim Johnson were in the interview tent today. Johnson was asked for the umpteenth time about using three cornerbacks -- Asante Samuel, Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown -- at the same time.
Here is his response, along with highlights from what he and McNabb had to say.
On what percentage of the time they will play nickel coverage: “Every year it’s different. I know some years we started a couple games with nickel defense. It was like 65, 70 percent of the time we played a lot of nickel. Some years it might be 40 percent, but I anticipate 50 or 60 percent. As more and more teams go to three wideouts, four wideouts on first and second down, we’re going to match up with our nickel defense. But I’m not going to let ‘em dictate too much. I might start the game with all three of ‘em on the field. There’s a lot of things we feel comfortable doing with those three guys. It’ll work itself out. I’m not too concerned about that right now. It’s good competition."
On whether S Sean Considine could challenge S Quintin Mikell for a starting spot: “I think that, right now, it’s Q’s job. There’s no question about it. But, we’ll play the best player. That’s what preseason’s about. The lineup is pretty well set. We’ll use Sean a lot of different ways. Sometimes in nickel, and Q will play in dime. We’ll try to get the best players on the field.”
On what can be done to improve the offense without many major offseason moves:
“I think for us, we pretty much have to get back to the basics and not try to come out and shock people with different types of plays. I think if we run our offense and get everybody involved early, I think that will be important for us to get into that rhythm. We started fast [in 2006] against the Houston Texans, and opened up the offense a little more. I think we can do that."
On personally getting back to the playoffs for the first time since 2004:
“The team has been to the playoffs. I’ve been in the playoffs a lot, so it’s not like I don’t know how to play in the playoffs. Again, for me it’s just doing what we need to do in order to get there. Once we get there, it will take care of itself. I’ve missed three years of not being in the playoffs. A lot of teams haven’t been to the playoffs in six or seven years. I look at it as riding a bike. If you do your job during the regular season, everything takes care of itself in the playoffs."
On whether he felt like himself at all last season:
“Not at all. I felt like the knee was getting stronger, but confidence was always in it. I felt like I was always preparing for the next week. In any situation where it deals with knees or ankles or shoulders, it seems like you’re just getting ready for that next week. Then, once you feel like it’s better, you are preparing for that next week again. With rest, taking a little bit of January and February off, I didn’t really start running until the end of March, where I was just focusing on those particular injuries and getting them back to speed.”
Also, the Eagles placed rookie defensive tackle Trevor Laws (foot) and rookie defensive end Bryan Smith (hamstring) on the physically unable to perform list and rookie cornerback Jack Ikegwuonu (knee) on the physically unable to perform list with a non-football injury.
Andy Reid said Laws and Smith are scheduled to return to practice in the next few days, while Ikegwuonu is expected to miss the entire season with a knee injury suffered during a workout prior to the NFL draft.