McNabb: "It's serious business"

Donovan McNabb believes that the Eagles are right where they need to be to get back to the Super Bowl. He proclaimed himself to be ready both physically and mentally to be the catalyst for his team.

We all know that there was a lot that happened for the Eagles and Donovan McNabb in particular. Not only did McNabb and Terrell Owens engage in a highly public display of disrespect for each other, but the remnants of that spat seemed to be that McNabb had lost a lot of the respect that he had previously garnered from his teammates. Donovan McNabb doesn't see it that way and insists that he doesn't have to win back his teammates.

"I don't plan on doing anything different than I've been doing. The whole attitude that I've had is I'm not here to make friends, I'm here to win ball games, and the only way we'll be able to win ball games is by playing together and playing well. My whole mindset of coming back is just to work out, train, get stronger, get faster, push each other, motivate each other and just have fun," said a determined McNabb, who stressed that he believes his teammates hold respect for him, even if they don't like him. "Hey, if you can't trust family, who can you trust? If they don't [like me], then at least they respect what I do."

Perhaps, McNabb is looking to regain respect from himself. He prides himself on leading the Eagles, but an injury and his public sparring with Owens cut into that pride. Now though, with Owens gone, McNabb insists that he's physically ready for the season. "Just from training, I felt that I could do a lot of things that we were doing out there on the field. Right now it feels pretty good. I know there will probably be some soreness, probably be some tightness. I'll just continue to have my mind on being flexible, continue to prepare for the worst and just look forward to having fun in the opportunities I have," explained McNabb, who put himself through some tests on the basketball court this off-season. "I've played basketball every year, but with the situation now we're trying to strengthen up the groin and the abdominal muscles, what it does is it puts a little different pressure on it. You're testing it out with different moves, testing it out by playing defense and shuffling, things that you would probably do in training. But, now it's kind of a different arena. So, playing basketball has definitely helped out in so many ways. Right now we're just strengthening it up and continuing to break down the scar tissue."

Meanwhile, a healthy McNabb looks to have some new weapons to throw to this season and he thinks they'll help. "Reggie [Brown] is a hard worker. Reggie is a guy that you can definitely see the knack for the big-play ability with him. I think the year of experience is definitely going to help in so many ways for him. But, also I think bringing in guys like Jabar Gaffney, drafting Jason Avant, and having Todd [Pinkston], Greg [Lewis] and those guys here, gives him a little leeway to do some other things now because those guys as well can take pressure off of him. We spread the ball around. It's something that I take pride in. So, now everyone gets involved and I think it makes it more exciting for the receivers to line up knowing they have the chance to get the ball."

McNabb was especially impressed with Avant. "Avant shows some good signs. It's just the first practice, but he's shown great signs, catching the ball well, running good routes. He hasn't kind of went against our DB's being physical yet, but I've heard a lot about him. I think he's a Chicago kid too, so that helps out a lot," joked McNabb.

For now, all is lining up just perfectly for the Eagles. Of course, that's in mini-camp. Once regular training camp rolls around and a couple exhibition games are played, things could take on a different appearance.

What else McNabb had to say...

On staying in Philadelphia this offseason: "Every year I come back usually for about two weeks, just working with the guys. I decided to stay a little longer. I felt it was important that the guys got an understanding that it's serious business. I take it very seriously with what I do to prepare myself to train. And at the particular time of the rehabbing, I just wanted to kind of send a message to the guys and let them know that with everything that happened, I'm still focused. I'm still looking forward to getting back out on that field and I kind of want them to have that same attitude as well."

On whether he thinks about his groin injury while he's out there, especially rolling out of the pocket: "No, not necessarily. I've been running, lifting and playing basketball for so many weeks now. I don't even think about it. I just go out in that particular play, it's something I just have to get used to, rolling left."

On whether his big test for the groin is rolling out to his left: "(Jokingly) I've made some outstanding moves on the basketball court to help prepare me for it, but in that situation, it's pretty much just being able to get your hips turned and get your legs up under you. On that particular play, I wasn't able to get it outside in a position that I wanted to get it in. [SS] Michael Lewis picked it off, but that's just kind of what this moment is for."

On whether he is less nice of a guy than he was in the past: "I'm always a nice guy. I'm not going to change who I am. I'm always going to be smiling, I'm always going to crack jokes. (Jokingly) If people don't think it's funny now all of a sudden, hey, I'm going to continue to laugh. I'll entertain myself I guess."

On whether last season hardened him: "No. In the workplace, I'm sure all of you guys don't try to be friends with everybody either. You don't have to like everybody you work with as long as you respect what they do. I respect what everybody does, I like everybody. I talk to everyone. (Jokingly) I love everyone, I'm a loving guy."

On whether this is simply a test of whether a team can rebound from adversity: "Absolutely. The solution in this game we play is winning. With winning, it kind of sugarcoats a lot of different things that happen throughout the organization. When you go through a situation like this, or any other situation of losing or injuries, bouncing back, rebounding is very important. Because what that does is it sends a message to the rest of the guys. It sends a message to the organization and coaching staff that we do have the players here to be successful. We have a nucleus here who has been here since we've had success. We know what we need to do as a unit. How we need to do it is just go out and execute."

On how difficult it will be to climb to the top of the division: "I don't think it'll be hard at all. Everyone talks about the free agent signings of the Giants, Dallas and the Redskins. I think what we have to do is just get back to the mold of playing good football. We have guys here who we feel can make big plays for us. And I think with having a five, six year reign of being NFC Champs, I see no reason why we can't be back at the top."

On whether he is more susceptible to injury with his groin: "I've talked to the doctors. I've talked to different players that have had it. There is a lingering process that you go through, if it's affecting you mentally, physically, whatever it may be. Fortunately for me, I've had a chance to have it for awhile now and do different things. I've tested it out in so many ways where I've worked with a physical therapist in Arizona, and I've worked with the guys that train me out there. So, I'm able to test it and see how it feels. It feels great right now. Just talking to the different guys that have had it, they've said that sometimes you may feel a little bulge or you may feel something that'll bring you back. You've just got to continue to stay on it, be flexible, continue to stretch the muscles out and keep them loose."

On whether he is worried about T.O.'s book: "Personally, I don't care. (Jokingly) I'll buy the book, try to get it signed maybe, get an autographed book. That'd be awesome."

On what it means to him that rookies coming in have looked up to him, in particular Jason Avant said he used to play as McNabb in video games: "(Jokingly) I'm getting old. It kind of makes it exciting for those guys, it makes it exciting for me. To have the opportunity to play with these guys, and for them to say that, you talk to their parents and how excited they are, it's exciting for me because every time I go out and train and prepare myself for each season I try to get back to how it was in 1999 or how I was in college. It's tough, but the challenge is always there. I'm sure all the guys say the same thing about playing with [Packers QB] Brett [Favre], the list goes on of guys who have been in the league a little longer. But, hey, I'm excited to play with some of these guys. Some of these guys I've watched in college. I love watching college football and having the opportunity to play with them is exciting for me."

On whether there are any changes in his off-season workout because of his injury: "No. I always feel that if you kind of back off of what you've been doing or you think you can relax in so many ways, then you feel like you're not in great shape or you feel like you didn't work as hard as you needed to. Obviously, with what happened, I think if I can kind of get back to working as hard as I could and maybe a little bit harder, maybe that was what it was last year. But, you never have an answer for a sports hernia. No one has ever answered actually how you get a sports hernia. I've never heard of getting hurt by working too hard. I've heard of getting hurt or something happening when you're hardly working."

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