McNabb To Take More Chances

Although it may not be the most popular brand of football, Eagles' quarterback Donovan McNabb's conservative approach has led to success since he entered the league. In 2004, however, coupled with Terrell Owens, expect McNabb to take more chances with downfield throws.

In the four seasons that Donovan McNabb has been the Eagles' starting quarterback, protecting the football has been at the top of his priority list. While he may throw too many checkdowns to suit some fans, he has been one of the league's best at avoiding interceptions, averaging one interception every 45.3 attempts.

With another year of experience under his belt, and with the addition of Terrell Owens to the Eagles' receiving corps, McNabb said he's going to take more chances with the football this season.

"In some cases yes, in some cases no," he said. "You still have to be smart. Not try to force the ball in the position where a defender can make a play.

"But still, there are going to be some opportunities, like Jeff (Garcia, the former 49ers quarterback) took last year and the years before with T.O. Just put him in a position and let him, the bigger receiver, go out and get it."

The league's re-emphasis of the illegal contact rule, which is expected to prevent defenders from manhandling receivers like the Carolina Panthers did to the Eagles' wideouts in last season's NFC Championship Game, also should allow McNabb to be a little more daring.

That said, McNabb isn't going to turn into a riverboat gambler like Brett Favre. Avoiding mistakes and making smart decisions still is what he does best. He threw just four interceptions in the Eagles' final 9 regular-season games last year as the Birds bounced back from a 3-3 start to win 9 of their final 10 games and earn the NFC homefield advantage in the playoffs for the second straight year.

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