PHILADELPHIA -- Donovan McNabb is ready to pull on the No. 5 gameday jersey, take the snap, drop back and throw the ball downfield.
McNabb plans to start when the Philadelphia Eagles play the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday, his first action since breaking his rib during the season opener. McNabb still feels some discomfort and needs a protective jacket to absorb punishing hits.
"You're talking about one of the all-time greats playing quarterback," Eagles coach Andy Reid said Wednesday. "Somebody who has been here a long time and when it's all said and done will be one of the all-time greatest to play that position. It's always good to get that kind of a player back in there."
This time, McNabb will have Michael Vick to help him.
McNabb hasn't played since he took a hard shot in the end zone after a rushing touchdown Sept. 13 in a victory over the Carolina Panthers. He missed two games before the Eagles (2-1) had their bye this past weekend.
"The bye week came at the right time and gave me an opportunity to get back out there this week," McNabb said.
McNabb practiced Wednesday and should have his familiar, and banged-up, running back behind him. Reid said Brian Westbrook also should be able to play Sunday. Westbrook, who practiced Wednesday, sat out the Eagles' last game with a knee injury.
McNabb still feels some discomfort when he laughs, coughs or sleeps on his side. Extended periods of sitting and standing also are uncomfortable for the five-time Pro Bowl quarterback, who doesn't expect to be fully recovered for another two to four weeks.
"I don't think I'll be going through this deal for weeks," McNabb said. "In due time, it will heal up and get back to 100 percent. As far as right now, it's something you battle with and continue to grind, but it's nothing that will restrict me in any way."
Kevin Kolb, who threw for 327 yards against the Kansas City Chiefs and 391 against the New Orleans Saints in his two starts, returns to his backup role. He was the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 300-plus yards in his first two starts.
"Kolb really did play well," McNabb said. "The offense really rallied around him. Guys stepped up and made plays for him. That's what you want."
Kolb threw for all those yards even with the Eagles breaking out variations of the Wildcat. Westbrook and wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin have all had turns at quarterback in Philadelphia's Wildcat formation. Vick has been the team's primary Wildcat weapon and was the quarterback for 10 plays in Philadelphia's 34-14 win over Kansas City in Week 3. Vick will continue to be worked into the offense, even with McNabb back. Vick was suspended the first two games this year.
McNabb endorsed Vick's signing but complained during a preseason game that the Eagles' heavy use of Vick and the Wildcat formation disrupted the offense. McNabb insisted Wednesday that he was fine with the offense if it helped the team win.
"The fun thing about it is we haven't even touched the surface of what we will do with it," McNabb said. "It's something that's going to benefit us and put pressure on defenses."
Reid said he had no set number of plays in which he wanted to include Vick. The once-dazzling and dynamic quarterback for the Atlanta Falcons is shaking off the rust after a two-year layoff and appears closer to his old self.
Vick said Wednesday that he hasn't talked with McNabb about how they will be paired and used to their full potential.
"I think it will be pretty much be the same six, seven plays per game, go out and make the plays positive plays," Vick said. "Help the team, not hurt the team, which is my motto right now. If I only get five or six plays the rest of the season, then I'm content with that, but like I said, my objective is to win."
Vick and cable channel BET confirmed that they are working together on a documentary set to air in 2010. Vick and his crew started filming when he was sent to prison for 18 months for his role in operating a dogfighting ring.
Asked why he started filming, Vick repeated the same message he has spread at his various anti-dogfighting talks at schools and churches.
"I think its important to show our youth and our kids that you face adversity, but you're not responsible for falling, you're responsible for getting up," Vick said. "I'm very remorseful about what happened and what I did. I just don't want other people to go down that path. I'm trying to make it right and repair past damages. That's all I want to show."
Vick said he didn't believe he'd have to continue filming during the football season.
"Some time in 2010, we'll have a chance to put it all together and do the editing," Vick said. "But I have to play football now, which is the most important thing."
And for the first time in a regular-season game, he'll get to play with McNabb.
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press