Let he who has not missed any days at Lehigh as a rookie cast the first stone, Donovan McNabb said, or something along those lines.
The Eagles' quarterback addressed reporters Monday for the first time in the 2009 training camp, seeming thoughtful and relaxed, except for the swarm of gnats he kept swatting away from his face. Asked about missing rookie wideout Jeremy Maclin, who remains unsigned, McNabb said he figures the deal will get done sooner or later, and mentioned that he was able to work on timing with the first-rounder when his receivers made the annual pilgrimage to Arizona earlier this month.
"I wasn't here, my rookie year," said McNabb, who missed the first five days of camp in 1999, including two days of full-squad workouts, which don't start until Friday this year. "It's part of the business, it's something you go through. I'm just excited that we had an opportunity to work out in Arizona, so for the days that he (misses), I've had an opportunity to work with him, so when he comes in, we can just kind of feed from that."
Asked how long Maclin can miss before he starts imperiling his chance to contribute as a rookie, McNabb said: "There's ways about that. For him, these days would would just be days to get ahead, because we're going to go back over the same thing when the vets get here.. I'm sure he and his agent and Joe and Andy and those guys will sit down and resolve something and give him an opportunity to get here, so that he can kind of get his feet wet and be able to battle and compete with the rest of the guys."
McNabb, as usual, shied away from talk that the Eagles have their most talented offensive lineup of his tenure, or should be penciled in for the Super Bowl.
"It's premature to say that," he said. "Obviously, when guys come out of college, the great things they did in college, people think they can translate that to the NFL. That's hard to say ... You have to give guys an opportunity to develop into the offense or the schemes they've been drafted into. For Maclin, it's too much pressure to put on his shoulders to (expect him) to do what DeSean (Jackson) did his rookie year, what Reggie (Brown) did his rookie year."
McNabb said Brian Westbrook sounds positive about his rehab following an ankle cleanout last month. He noted the difference, not seeing familiar faces such as offensive tackles Jon Runyan and Tra Thomas, and free safety Brian Dawkins. But McNabb jokingly resisted inferences that this indicated he is getting old. In fact, when a questioner mentioned rookie running back LeSean McCoy's story about coming to Lehigh as a youngster and getting McNabb's autograph, McNabb said he hoped that was a story from just a few years back, because "I'm not that old. I'm not Brett."
McNabb also joked when asked about Terrell Owens' reality show. "I'll be making an appearance on the show," McNabb said, before making it clear that would not be happening. "First episode had some interesting people on there," he said. Asked how the creators could improve the show, McNabb said: "By not having it."
On a more serious level, McNabb said he thinks now that Michael Vick is out of prison, the former Falcons quarterback should be reinstated, without having to serve a suspension.
On the Maclin watch, agent Jim Steiner offered this assessment late Sunday night, via email: "(Eagles negotiator Andrew) Brandt is doing a good job with negotiations. Lines of communication are excellent, and we will continue discussions tonight and as long as it takes to get Jeremy in asap. Since there is only one player signed in that area of the (first) round (Cleveland's Alex Mack, taken 21st) it is a little more difficult. Andrew is a pro, and he is steadfast in getting it done!"
New defensive coordinator Sean McDermott also spoke to reporters Monday. McDermott was asked if he had been able to speak with Jim Johnson, since McDermott was introduced Saturday as Johnson's successor. McDermott's answer sounded ominous, in terms of Johnson's battle against metastasized melanoma.
McDermott said he had made contact with Johnson's family, and said he "looks forward to staying in touch as long as I can."