John Keim: Does Donovan look like a different QB to you, or is he close to being himself again?
Chris Steuber: Donovan is not himself yet. I felt better about Donovan going into last week’s game against the Packers than I do about him entering Monday night’s game against the Redskins. I didn’t like the way he was throwing the ball. He looked fatigued, and he didn’t use his legs very well when he was throwing. However, he did move pretty well out of the pocket. He looked a little gimpy on a few plays towards the sidelines, but that’s expected from a guy returning early from ACL surgery. I think when the season approaches Week 5 or 6, you’ll see a much more confident and complete Donovan McNabb.
JK: Obviously Lito Sheppard is a good player. Just how big a loss is he for Monday's game, and how does this change the Eagles' defense?
CS: The Eagles are starting to get used to not having Sheppard in the lineup. He’s been in and out of the lineup for the last three years now, so this is nothing new. But it does affect what the Eagles do on defense. With Sheppard sidelined, nickelback William James moves into the starting corner spot opposite Sheldon Brown. Replacing James in nickel situations is Joselio Hanson. Hanson is a good fill-in corner, but he may get exposed in the slot against physical receivers. The Redskins have a lot of talent at the receiver position and with Sheppard out of the lineup, (Redskins starting quarterback) Jason Campbell won’t shy away from throwing the ball in James’ direction.
JK: What was the most impressive part of the defense's performance against Green Bay?
CS: The most impressive part on the defensive side of the ball for the Eagles against the Packers was the play of their two young defensive tackles – Mike Patterson (10 tackles and a sack) and Brodrick Bunkley (double-teamed most of the game which freed up Patterson). Patterson and Bunkley have been criticized for their lackluster play thus far in their young careers, but in the game against the Packers, both players emerged. I was also encouraged by the play of Sean Considine. He’s been another player that’s been criticized in Philadelphia, and he silenced a lot of those critics with his solid play against the Packers.
JK: Has the defense shown enough from the preseason and the opener to suggest it's ready to be dominant again? Why or why not?
CS: For the defense to become a dominant force in the NFL this season, they have to stay healthy. A lot of what the Eagles achieve this season, both offensively and defensively, revolves around them staying healthy. That’s probably the same sentiment a lot of teams in the NFL have, but for the Eagles it may be more of a reality than most teams.
JK: How well has Jevon Kearse played -- and how are they using him this year? Are they lining him up in one spot or multiple areas?
CS: Kearse was slowed a bit in the preseason, as he was still recovering from his knee injury that he suffered in Week 2 of last season. He’s also slimmed down a lot from last year and that’s cause for concern as the season progresses. When Kearse is healthy, he’s one of the most dominant pass rushers in the league. The only problem is he hasn’t been healthy. Kearse played well in the season opener against the Packers, but I’m sure when he limped off the field in the first half, the Eagles coaching staff was holding their breath. But he was fine, and he finished the game. The Eagles like to move Kearse around and take advantage of his talents, but I expect Kearse to be a situational player this year until he’s fully healthy. The Eagles can’t afford to lose Kearse again to a season ending injury because his presence means more for the Eagles pass rush than any other player on the roster.
A member of the Pro Football Writers of America and the Football Writers Association of America, Chris Steuber is the Editor in Chief of WarNest.com and an NFL Analyst for Scout.com. Steuber has provided his analysis of the NFL and NFL Draft prospects on the web and on the radio since 1999. If you have any questions for Chris, email him at email@example.com.