The receiver, Terrell Owens, indicated in an ESPN interview this week that he is almost ready to kiss and make up with the quarterback that threw him a franchise-record 14 touchdown passes last season, Donovan McNabb.
Owens has been upset over the Eagles' refusal to renegotiate his one-year-old contract. He skipped all of the Eagles' off-season camps and was thrown out of training camp for a week for insubordination by coach Andy Reid. For reasons that still aren't clear, Owens' anger with the Eagles spilled over to McNabb, the club's highest-paid player. Owens took several public shots at McNabb during the off-season and called him a hypocrite in a nationally televised interview shortly after Reid threw him out of camp. The two went through training camp and the preseason without speaking to each other. But now, at last, there is perhaps a truce.
"Everybody speaks out of emotion, everybody speaks out of frustration," Owens told ESPN. "That means I'm human. If you're going to say I was wrong, maybe I was. Maybe I wasn't. "But I will say, because God is in me, I will talk to Donovan. At some particular point in time, the spirit will move me to talk to him. "It's not that I hate Donovan. I love Donovan. I don't hate him at all." McNabb had his finest season last year, thanks in large part to the presence of Owens. Owens caught 77 passes and McNabb became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw more than 30 touchdown passes and less than 10 interceptions.
In the Eagles' only preseason game in which McNabb and Owens played together, they connected on five passes for 131 yards and one touchdown. So maybe communication isn't absolutely necessary. "Things'll get worked out," Owens said. "You guys'll see. Hey, the camera's going to be on me (Monday night). Believe that." SERIES HISTORY: 25th meeting. Eagles lead the series, 13-10-1. They faced the Falcons in January in Philadelphia in the NFC Championship Game with the Eagles winning easily, 27-10.
--The Eagles had two undrafted free agents make their roster - safety Jeremy Thornburg and tight end Stephen Spach. Spach, who played college ball at Fresno State, beat out veteran James Whalen and another undrafted free agent, Andy Thorn, to earn the job as starter L.J. Smith's backup. But Spach at least looks like a football player. He's 6-2 and 250 pounds. Thornburg, out of Northern Arizona, weighs just 190 pounds, which is light for a safety. But he impressed the coaching staff with his ferocious hitting. "By his physical stature, you can't tell how he can hit," said Eagles cornerback Rod Hood, who made the team as an undrafted free agent himself three years ago. "But when you see him play, he's killing people." Thornburg couldn't believe it when he was told he had made the team. "I got choked up a little bit," he said. "I started calling everybody. It took like five hours. It was a weird day. I was, like, floating."
--Fullback Josh Parry had mixed emotions when the Eagles announced their final cuts. He beat out veteran Jon Ritchie, who is his best friend on the team, for the one and only fullback spot on the roster. Ritchie still hasn't completely recovered from a knee injury that washed out last season for him. "I feel good about my position, but I wish Jon could have made it also," Parry said. "He has been a great friend to me and I will continue to talk to him, and I hope he makes it with another team."
--The biggest surprise out of the Eagles' final cuts was veteran defensive end Hugh Douglas. The 34-year-old Douglas is coming off major shoulder surgery and didn't play very well in camp or the preseason. But he was one of the club's locker-room leaders. Said Douglas: "I kind of knew it was coming. I had a feeling. They like their young defensive ends and they're going to go with those guys. I'm not bitter. I'm not upset. I'm not devastated. Hey, it's football." Douglas said he hasn't decided whether he'll try to continue his career with another team. He's interested in a broadcasting career in television or radio. Said Douglas: "I had a great time in Philly. I can always look back and say, `Hey, I was part of a team that went to the Super Bowl.' I got an opportunity many people in this league never get."
--Terrell Owens announced on his web site that he plans to auction off his NFC championship ring, with the proceeds going to the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Details will be announced Friday, according to www.terrellowens.com BY THE NUMBERS: .738 -- winning percentage for coach Andy Reid since 2000, the league's best. He's won 59 of 80 games over that period.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "Releasing players that have worked their tails off for the team is one of the toughest days for me. It's even tougher when you release veterans such as Hugh (Douglas) and Jon (Ritchie)." - Eagles coach Andy Reid.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
Running back Lamar Gordon, who was claimed on waivers from the Dolphins, fills a need for the Eagles. That need is a big back they can use in short-yardage situations, much like they did Dorsey Levens last season. Before they claimed the 6-0, 225-pound Gordon, the Eagles didn't have a running back bigger than 210 pounds. Brian Westbrook, rookie Ryan Moats and Reno Mahe all are undersized players.
PLAYER PERSONNEL NOTES
--P Dirk Johnson appears to have made a complete recovery from hernia surgery. He sat out the preseason, but started kicking again late last week and is expected to play against the Falcons.
--PR Dexter Wynn, expected to be sidelined until late September with a high ankle sprain, has made a near-miraculous recovery and is fairly confident he'll play and return punts against Atlanta. Wynn also is the club's fourth cornerback. He is listed as questionable for the game.
--DT Sam Rayburn still is nursing a hyperextended elbow that bothered him most of the preseason. But he played in the team's final preseason game and is expected to be part of their four-man tackle rotation against Atlanta. He's listed as probable.
--FB Josh Parry is listed as probable for Monday night's game with a shoulder injury. With the release of Jon Ritchie, he's the only fullback on the roster.
--S Sean Considine, the club's fourth-round draft pick who didn't play in any of the Eagles' preseason games because of a shoulder injury, is listed as probable for the Falcons game.
GAME PLAN: The Eagles held Falcons quarterback Mike Vick to 26 rushing yards and 136 passing yards in their 27-10 NFC Championship Game victory. Their defensive strategy against Vick on Monday night will be the same as it was in January. Prevent him from getting outside and make him beat them through the air rather than with his legs.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH:
Blitz-happy defensive coordinator Jim Johnson vs. Falcons QB Michael Vick. Johnson had all the answers against Vick in the NFC Championship Game.
RG Shawn Andrews and C Hank Fraley vs. Falcons LDT Rod Coleman. Coleman had 11.5 sacks last season. Eagles SLB Dhani Jones vs. Falcons TE Alge Crumpler. Crumpler is Vick's main go-to guy and is a tough size-and-speed matchup in coverage.
INJURY IMPACT: The Eagles should have everybody on their roster available for Monday night's game. Dexter Wynn, the club's punt returner and fourth cornerback, is the only player listed as questionable. But his high ankle sprain, which initially was expected to sideline him until late September, has been healing quickly.