Eagles try to block McNabb hype

MIKE RUTSEY, Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 7:45 PM ET

PHILADELPHIA — The Philadelphia Eagles defence is in denial.

From the coach to the players their mantra heading into Sunday’s game is: "We’re not trying to stop Donovan McNabb, we’re trying to stop the Redskins."

They may be successful in talking themselves into taking McNabb out of the equation but when they run on the field, it will be McNabb behind centre taking the snaps and attempting to make the big plays.

They just don’t want it to become a personal thing.

“It looks like they have,” head coach Andy Reid said Friday of his team keeping things in perspective with all the McNabb hype.

“We’re very excited to play the Washington Redskins, that’s an NFC East rival and those are all exciting games. We know our crowd will be unbelievably loud and fired up and that helps us. I think it will be a great atmosphere for a football game.”

No mention of McNabb, though.

When asked about McNabb directly, however, Reid was effusive with his praise.

“He’s a phenomenal player who is playing phenomenal football right now,” Reid said of his former quarterback. “We had some great moments here. He left a phenomenal legacy here, big games and everything else. He’s a heck of a player.”

That may be, but Reid didn’t want his guys to get focused on McNabb and nothing else.

“I think they (the coaching staff) did a good job of narrowing everyone’s focus, understanding that we’re playing the Washington Redskins,” said linebacker Stewart Bradley.

“They have a lot of offensive weapons. I think we’ve done a good job of understanding our priorities this week.”

Still, with so much on the line for McNabb, the Redskins are expecting a top effort.

“We’re expecting his best,” Bradley said. “He’s a great player and he shows up in big games and makes a lot of plays and that’s what we expect to see.”

Defensive end Trent Cole agrees.

“We’re not focussing on Donovan, we’re focussing on beating the Redskins,” Cole said. “That’s our No. 1 goal. We’ve prepared ourselves to win, we’re prepared to beat the Redskins. It’s one NFL team against another NFL team and that’s what it is.”

Maybe for the players.

As for the Eagles fans, it’s all about Vick against McNabb.

And yes, they’ll be taking it personally.


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