McNabb: Eagles are capable of reaching Super Bowl

BETHLEHEM, Pa.-- Another year, another Super Bowl prediction by Donovan McNabb.

This time, the naysayers might take notice. Last year in training camp, McNabb said the Eagles were contenders capable of reaching the Super Bowl - even after coming off a 6-10 season.

Then, McNabb went down with a knee injury and missed the final six games of last season. But the Birds staged a miraculous turnaround and fell a victory shy of reaching the NFC championship game.

Entering his ninth season as Eagles quarterback, McNabb has every reason to be brimming with confidence.

"Last year, I said we were a Super Bowl team, and everybody kind of laughed about it and didn't understand what I was saying," said McNabb, who sat out Monday as he rested his sore knee. "We were pretty much a couple of plays from the NFC championship again. I guess people think that what I say is right, now. I doubt it, but we'll see how far it goes this year."

With McNabb, the Eagles lost three straight NFC title games before breaking through and eventually losing to the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl in 2005.

McNabb turns 31 in November, and he is coming off his second season-ending injury in as many seasons. He leads a team with veterans at several key positions and believes the team is poised to take the next step.

"I think the time is now," McNabb said. "Not that we're trying to say the window is closing, but we've been through the Super Bowl.

"We've been through the NFC championships. We've been in the playoffs. Now it's time to seal the deal."

The Eagles made several improvements during the offseason.

They lost receiver Donte Stallworth, but added veteran Kevin Curtis, who is having an excellent camp. They added veteran linebacker Takeo Spikes and drafted a bruising back in Penn State's Tony Hunt. If defensive tackle Brodrick Bunkley rebounds from a rough rookie season and produces like a No. 1 pick, and Chris Gocong develops into their strong-side linebacker, the much-maligned run defense should be significantly improved.

McNabb says the Birds have added missing pieces to the puzzle and expectations remain high.

"Our defense is very experienced, and we brought in some key guys that can help us out in so many ways," he said.

If the Eagles are to succeed, they'll likely need a healthy McNabb. Recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament, McNabb was given Monday off.

"I just held (him) out for precautionary measures, nothing more than that," coach Andy Reid said. "He's fine."

McNabb said the off day was nothing to worry about. "It was a little more sore than normal," McNabb said. "Nothing to get nervous about, but it happens. Even if you didn't have surgery or you are just healthy, you get sore. It was just being cautious."

McNabb said he will return on Tuesday and still expects to play in the regular-season opener against Green Bay.

Also on Monday, McNabb also tried to clarify earlier comments he made about Michael Vick's indictment on dogfighting charges.

"Not everybody read the whole quote," McNabb said. "The whole quote was basically saying that I was supporting him because he's a friend of mine. We've known each other for a long time, and I just want to see him come out of this thing and be back out on the football field, playing football and doing what he loves."

McNabb acknowledged the allegations against Vick are terrible but that the Falcons quarterback should not be judged until all the facts are known.

"I also said that just like everyone else, I don't know exactly what happened. You can only go by what was put on the Internet or by what was said.

"My thing is, just continue to see what happens and what comes out of it before you make judgment."

Notes: Safety Brian Dawkins (Achilles), guard Shawn Andrews (ankle) and running back Correll Buckhalter (knee) did not practice. Cornerback Lito Sheppard (oblique) practiced on a limited basis.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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