A.J. FEELEY wasn't surprised to see the Eagles acquire Kelly Holcomb last week, Feeley said yesterday, and he doesn't mind that the team added another veteran quarterback.
"I knew that we needed to get another guy in here,'' Feeley said between sessions supervising youngsters at the Eagles' inaugural "junior combine" for children ages 6-14, held in the NovaCare indoor practice facility. Feeley will assume the starter's role for next month's minicamps and possibly for the start of training camp, depending on Donovan McNabb's recovery from ACL surgery. "I knew we had to get a third guy in here for minicamps [and training camp]; with Donovan, we don't know where he's going to be in minicamps or even training camp. You definitely need a guy that's a seasoned guy, who's been there before. That doesn't surprise me at all."
Eagles coach Andy Reid made it clear last week that Feeley is No. 2 and Holcomb is No. 3. The Eagles signed Feeley to a 3-year contract extension under that premise a little more than a month ago, deciding to not bid for Jeff Garcia, who ended up with Tampa Bay.
"I signed back to be a No. 2 quarterback," Feeley said. "I don't know if that speaks for itself or it doesn't, but there's always competition, you know that, at any level. As a quarterback, you know that you're always evaluated by your last performance . . . you've always got to prove yourself."
That part about competition was just about exactly what Holcomb, 34, said last week. He said he mainly wanted a solid shot at the postseason, after frustrating stints in Cleveland and Buffalo.
Feeley, who turns 30 next month, said he has a slight acquaintance with Holcomb and doesn't think the new QB will have much trouble picking up the West Coast attack, though Holcomb hasn't played in it since his 1995 practice-squad stint with the Bucs.
"I don't think it'll be that tough for him - I don't see him being a guy that's going to struggle with the West Coast offense," Feeley said.
Feeley said knowing he will take most of the starting-team reps in minicamps, as McNabb recovers, doesn't change his offseason preparation, or cause any anxiety.
"I've been in that situation before," he said. "I've played with the 'ones', I played last year, I've been around. It's not like there's a fresh face walking into the huddle; they've seen me every day in practice, they've played with me . . . I don't think it'll be foreign to 'em. It won't be foreign to me, anyway."
Feeley was drafted by the Eagles in the fifth round in 2001, then went 4-1 down the stretch in 2002 after McNabb and Koy Detmer were injured. Following the 2003 season, the Eagles traded Feeley to Miami for a second-round draft pick, and he started eight games for the Dolphins in 2004, but was less successful in that offense. He was traded to San Diego in 2005, then was released just before last season began, and quickly was picked up by the Eagles. Many fans hoped he would take over when McNabb went down, instead of Garcia, but those feelings faded as Garcia led the team into the second round of the playoffs.
Feeley has spent most of the offseason at his home in the San Diego area, working out with neighbor Carson Palmer, as Feeley's girlfriend, Heather Mitts, prepares for the women's soccer World Cup. Feeley said he and Palmer are learning to surf.
You could guess something like that from Feeley's tan, on a chilly, damp April evening in Philadephia. Seeing 150 youngsters swarm the indoor field, most wearing the jersey numbers of their favorite players, each night this week reminds Feeley of why he likes playing here.
"That's what's great about playing here in Philly," Feeley said, surrounded by young admirers, many of them Eagles Kids' Club members. "Look how many people turn out for an event like this - I don't know if this neccessarily would be the case anywhere else."
It wasn't clear what the Eagles would do with free agent safety Mike Doss if they signed him, given that they are expected to draft a safety pretty high and have three under contract, but Minnesota solved that dilemma by agreeing with Doss to a reported 1-year deal for $1 million, canceling Doss'planned visit to Philadelphia. *