McNabb back on the field

Donovan McNabb is expected to practice this morning for the first time since he was shut down with shoulder tendinitis during the organized team activities in early June.

McNabb posted on his blog recently that the shoulder was fine and that he was working out with some of his wide receivers in Arizona.

Now, everyone gets their first look at McNabb. And anything and everything McNabb is news. The quarterback also will be in the interview tent after the morning practice.

Coach Andy Reid said the team will monitor the number of throws McNabb makes during training camp.

“We’ll monitor it," Reid said Monday. "He has been throwing out in Arizona and seems to be feeling pretty good. We’ll have to keep a close eye on that and make sure that we limit his throws to see exactly where he is.”

Every summer, we hear this is a watershed year for McNabb. Yet, he's still the quarterback. So should we pay any attention to the rhetoric this time around? No question, many of us jumped the gun at midseason in '07, assuming McNabb was gone at the end of the year. He played better in the second half and management showed it was not as eager for regime change as some of us had thought.

But Kevin Kolb is not a figment of our imagination. McNabb has to be healthy and good this year, has to lead the Eagles back into the playoffs. It's really hard to imagine his era here going forward on anything less than that.

But if McNabb is healthy and productive, the picture changes dramatically. Who in his right mind casts off a healthy, 32-year-old Pro Bowl quarterback? When did that ever happen? McNabb absolutely has the opportunity to put Kolb on ice long term by playing well, which is why Andy Reid has done a funny sort of dance this offseason, talking up the idea of McNabb being here for years to come and de-emphasizing the idea that he is down to his last shot, while at the same time quietly moving Kolb ahead of A.J. Feeley, into the primary backup role. Of Kolb's move to the second team, Reid said, "He’ll get a few more reps and we’ll see how he does, see if he continues to progress and I anticipate that he does.”

There are two egos that have to be juggled here: Kolb certainly doesn't believe he is 3 or 4 years away from being able to take over a team. Kolb

The worst-case scenario is some outcome that isn't cut-and-dried. McNabb is up and down, Brian Westbrook gets hurt, and the Eagles barely miss the playoffs. Then what do you do? Or, say, McNabb is astonishing for 13 weeks, then gets hurt, and Kolb doesn't set the world on fire.

As someone once said, get your popcorn ready.

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