Eagles QB McNabb 'doubtful' vs. Saints

PHILADELPHIA - September 18, 2009 Kolb was publicly supported by his teammates, and kept his cool even as Jeff Garcia was signed as their backup QB.

He's done it all this week but start his first NFL game.

Kolb appears set to get that welcomed chance against New Orleans on Sunday. Donovan McNabb is doubtful because of a fractured rib and sat out practice for the third straight day Friday.

The Eagles haven't completely ruled out McNabb, leaving open the slim chance that the quarterback who once threw four touchdown passes on a broken ankle can gut out a painful rib injury against the Saints.

McNabb bellowed "I feel great" and laughed as he left the Eagles locker room. Coach Andy Reid said there was a chance McNabb would participate in Saturday's walkthrough.

"He felt a little bit better today and we'll just keep rehabbing him and see how it goes the next couple of days," Reid said.

Kolb, who has never thrown a TD pass in eight career games, is ready to start.

"In my mind, I'm the starter," he said. "That's the way I have to think of it."

Kolb would get the start ahead of Garcia, who signed Tuesday as an emergency backup. Garcia would be the No. 3 emergency QB if McNabb could somehow play. Michael Vick, suspended for the first two regular-season games as the final league penalty for his role in running a dogfighting ring, is not eligible until Week 3 against Kansas City.

Garcia and Vick shared snaps running the scout team Friday.

Reid has faith in Kolb, the Eagles' second-round draft pick in 2007.

"He takes charge in there and he's done a nice job with managing the huddle and the plays," Reid said.

It has been a strange sight for sure at Eagles practice this week, where McNabb, Garcia and Vick mingle in the background while Kolb runs the offense. Three QBs with a combined 12 Pro Bowls and six NFC title games are reduced to cheerleaders for Kolb and his 167 career yards passing and four interceptions.

Kolb said he was more comfortable at each practice and knows he's ready to handle the Saints and the rest of the NFL.

"I had about 12 people come up to me and say, 'God, you look as ready as you'll ever be,"' Kolb said. "Now it's about going out there and making sure it happens."

He has to make it happen because the fans will demand a change if he gets off to a slow start. Garcia was an instant fan favorite during his first stint here when he led the Eagles to the NFC East title subbing for an injured McNabb. Kolb has already been told he's earned the chance to start and finish Sunday's game.

There are no guarantees he'll get a second start no matter the result. With Garcia and Vick lurking if McNabb can't go against the Chiefs, the pressure is amped on Kolb to play well and win.

If Kolb throws three interceptions and the Eagles are down 17 entering the fourth quarter, why not try Garcia? He wished Kolb well, but said he's prepared to play if pressed into action.

"I'd be fired up," Garcia said. "If for some reason that opportunity presented itself, I'll be ready. I'll be ready to go."

Then again, Kolb could shine, McNabb could rush back and struggle, and those fickle fans could be chanting "We want Kolb!" on Oct. 11.

McNabb cracked a single rib when he was crunched by several defenders on his 3-yard touchdown run in the third quarter of last week's win at Carolina. He didn't immediately get up after the touchdown, and was attended to by Eagles trainers before eventually leaving the field on his own.

Kolb was 7 for 11 for 23 yards and sacked twice once he took over for McNabb.

Reid said McNabb's rib has become "sticky" - or, more stable - which was encouraging.

"When they start feeling better, that's normally a sign that's happened," he said.

McNabb laughed at his locker when asked about his sticky ribs.

"I don't know what that means," he said. "I never heard that in all my life."

He's not the only Eagle hurting. Safety Quintin Demps (hamstring), guard Todd Herremans (foot) and linebacker Joe Mays (shoulder) are all out Sunday.

They know their fate. Kolb wants a concrete answer on his role.

"Yeah, as soon as possible just because you want to know," Kolb said. "It doesn't matter because I'm preparing right now like I'm the starter. My mindset is that I'm starting and that's the way I have to think of it."

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