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McNabb knows this season is vital for Eagles' veterans

PHILADELPHIA -- Donovan McNabb made a plea to the Philadelphia Eagles to add playmakers. The team obliged, to a degree.

On Saturday, the Eagles quarterback had a chance to workout with the new additions as the team held its first practice of minicamp.

McNabb was quick to make the point that he was asking for overall help for the team, not just for himself.

"I said playmakers. I didn't say receivers," McNabb said. "I said guys that could come in and make plays for us."

In the offseason, the Eagles bolstered the defense by signing cornerback Asante Samuel and defensive end Chris Clemons and by drafting defensive tackle Trevor Laws.

They tried to help the return game by drafting speedy DeSean Jackson, and hope linebacker Rocky Boiman, tight end Kris Wilson and fullback Dan Klecko can help solidify the special teams.

But the Eagles have yet to make a major addition to the offense. Despite finishing sixth last season in total yards, the Eagles were 17th in points, averaging 21 per game.

So, is McNabb happy with the team's improvements?

"It wasn't to my likeness it was for the team," McNabb said. "It's hard to put pressure on these young guys coming in because you would throw them into the fire.

"It's just that we have our guys back healthy, and we all can get out there, and those young guys can kind of contribute, but for the veterans it's an important season for us."

The Eagles traded for second-year running back Lorenzo Booker, who played in seven games last season with Miami.

The diminutive Jackson, at 5-foot-10, 169 pounds, could help this season as a wide receiver, but that's asking a lot; rookies normally need time to learn the West Coast offense.

The Eagles tried to sign veteran receiver Randy Moss, but the six-time Pro Bowl selection elected to stay with New England.

Arizona kept wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, and Cincinnati insists it is keeping receiver Chad Johnson. Roy Williams is still with Detroit.

"We brought in Asante, who led the league in interceptions two years ago, or whatever, and last year had a lot of interceptions as well, so that was a start.

"We have a draft class, and you can't ask those guys to come in and make 1,000 plays for us, but just to make as many plays as they can and for the veterans to step up their game a little bit and elevate it to the right level to make sure we make plays as well."

McNabb knows the Eagles have veterans who can make plays. Brian Westbrook led the NFL with 2,104 yards from scrimmage. Receiver Kevin Curtis led the team last season with 1,110 receiving yards and six touchdowns. Reggie Brown had a sub-par season with 780 receiving yards and only four touchdown receptions, but he should be helped by the return of healthy tight end L.J. Smith.

Smith played in only 10 games last season because of injuries and, when he did play, was rarely 100 percent.

"It's not about me being me disappointed or excited," McNabb said. "The guys that we have here made plays for us last year. People forget that Kevin Curtis had over 1,000 yards receiving. That's the second time that's happened since I've been here, the first was obviously T.O.

"I know I got 36 (Westbrook) behind me. I've got a good offensive line and a good receiving corps. That's all you can ask."

Head coach Andy Reid doesn't believe McNabb has to ask for much more.

"I think with the players I have in the room, that we are ready to compete for a championship," Reid said. "It's that simple."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved

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