A.J. Feeley: The quiet soldier

During warm-ups before yesterdays practice AJ. Feeley stood there, ironically behind Donovan McNabb and Koy Detmer, the men he will be backing up this season. He looked confident, at ease and has reaccepted his role as this team's third string quarterback. His passes looked crisp and his attitude was even better. In the back of his mind even Feeley hopes he does not see the field after the fourth pre-season game, and that is what makes him such a great leader on this team.

Last season after watching Donovan McNabb and Koy Detmer go down with injuries, A.J. Feeley stepped in and did his best to replace them. Guiding the team to a four and one record as a starter and gaining the respect of his teammates, Feeley developed into a leader on this team. Yet, as 2003 rolls around he will once again be relegated to third string duties, but that doesn't seem to bother Feeley too much ""I feel confident, It's one of those things where I can improve over last year and gain as much knowledge from my playing in those six games and try to run with it." He continued "it gives me an advantage over those second third strings in the NFL who haven't played as much". Even though he may not get the playing time he did last year, he will certainly be soaking up all the knowledge he can.

Make no mistake, this is McNabb's team, it's his offense and the unit is built around him. Not only does that benefit the team's production on the field, but Feeley also reaps the rewards of learning from one of the best quarterbacks in the league. "It's nice [To have McNabb around], you get to learn from a guy like that, and even though I don't have his tools, he's a passing quarterback first and he's a guy you can learn from". After Feeley's marvelous performance to end last season it proves that he has been taking all the mental notes he can from McNabb and it is paying dividends towards his future.

Judging from Feeley's ability to read defenses and from his pinpoint accuracy and touch passes, he could be a starting quarterback somewhere in this league. But make no mistake, Feeley is right at home in Philadelphia and intends to be here for at least another season. He feels comfortable behind McNabb and Detmer, all the while he is gaining the respect of his teammates and coaches because of the ways he conducts himself on the practice fields and in the locker room. Philadelphia is his home, for now, and like many Eagles fans he is counting down the days until the Eagles open Lincoln Financial Field against the now hated, Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

After watching the way he can perform on the field last year, and seeing McNabb's gutsy showing in the NFC divisional game, Feeley along with everyone else in the Delaware valley thought this team was destined for San Diego. But that miserable defeat at the hands of Tampa Bay ruined everyone's travel plans, and this year the team is hungry to move forward. "I think I've said this before you know, it's a bad thing to have to face a team with a chip on it's shoulder, who's up against the wall, we need to get to the big dance" Feeley said, he added "That's the only thing we're concerned about, although we are going to take it one game at a time you know we realize what the long term goals are. With that on our shoulder, we have a lot to look forward to." Throw in the fact that this game is the opening of Lincoln Financial Field and even more drama is added, even for the third string quarterback who gets to sit and watch, just like the rest of us. ""I'm [looking forward to it], it should be a fun time. It should be a great time to be a Philadelphia Eagles fan. You get to experience the new stadium and see this new team." Hopefully Feeley, along with the rest of the team can deliver the type of season that closed out the Vet, this year.

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