McNabb looks to shake the rust against rival Redskins

The rust showed in Donovan McNabb's first game back with the Philadelphia Eagles.

McNabb looks for a better performance in the Eagles' home opener when they meet the Washington Redskins in an NFC East matchup on Monday night.

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Philadelphia won Jeff Garcia's last five starts of the regular season a year ago to win its fifth division title in six years, but McNabb was restored as the starter since Garcia wasn't offered a contract, although the team drafted University of Houston quarterback Kevin Kolb in the second round.

It wasn't a stellar performance in the opener by McNabb, who completed 15-of-33 passes for 184 yards and one touchdown in a 16-13 loss at Green Bay last week. It was his first action since Nov. 19 against Tennessee.

"I know that he had an opportunity to play more plays and see a little bit more pressure, and receive a little bit more pressure than he had in the preseason to have to try to make the throws," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "I think it was good for him to be in there and get that work. If there was any rust that he's able to knock it off now and move on."

McNabb will become the third quarterback in Eagles' history to start 100 regular-season games on Monday, joining Ron Jaworski and Randall Cunningham. He's won seven of his last eight starts against the Redskins, and he's passed for 1,285 yards, 11 touchdowns and just three interceptions over his last five meetings against them.

The Eagles are hoping that running back Brian Westbrook can duplicate his performances against the Redskins last season. Westbrook rushed for 201 yards and added 75 receiving as Philadelphia swept both games.

Philadelphia also got interception returns for touchdowns from Sheldon Brown and Michael Lewis in last year's meetings, but its secondary will be without cornerback Lito Sheppard on Monday. Sheppard suffered a sprained knee ligament in last week's loss and will be replaced by William James.

Another key change for the Eagles could be an appearance by punt returner Reno Mahe, who was signed Tuesday. It's unclear whether Mahe -- Philadelphia's regular punt returner last season -- will see action Monday. He wasn't offered a contract after last year.

Mahe was brought back because J.R. Reed, who was cut to make room for Mahe, bobbled a punt that led to the Packers' winning field goal. Additionally, Greg Lewis muffed a punt that Green Bay recovered in the end zone for a touchdown.

Washington must compensate for the loss of veteran right tackle Jon Jansen, who suffered a season-ending ankle injury in last week's 16-13 overtime win over Miami. Todd Wade, who wasn't active for the opener, will make his second start in as many years in place of Jansen.

The Redskins still managed 400 net yards without their best lineman. The bulk of them came from Antwaan Randle El, who had five catches for a career-high 162 yards after managing 32 catches for 351 yards all of last season -- his first with the Redskins.

"If you're in the game all the time, they have to be aware of you all the time," he said. "It puts a little bit more pressure on the defense."

Washington's Ladell Betts enjoyed two strong efforts against Philadelphia last season, rushing for 83 yards on 20 carries in a 27-3 loss on Nov. 12 and recording career highs of 33 carries and 171 yards in a 21-19 defeat on Dec. 10.

Clinton Portis, however, is Washington's featured back and gained 98 yards on 17 carries while Betts had 59 on his 17 rushes.

Philadelphia has won nine of the last 11 meetings with Washington. The only two losses came during the Eagles' disastrous 6-10 season in 2005 -- the only year of the previous six they failed to win the division.

Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press

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