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Eagles WRs Speak on McNabb, Kolb

Mixed Emotions For Eagles Wide Receivers On McNabb Trade

By Lance Epstein

Depending on which Philadelphia Eagles player that spoke today, there was a different feeling about trading the 11-year veteran and face of the franchise Donovan McNabb to the hated division rival Washington Redskins. Some were delighted, others saddened and meanwhile several were just relieved the situation was over.

For second-year wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, he admitted he was shocked when he heard McNabb was traded to the Washington Redskins. Still he cannot imagine McNabb as a former Eagle or even in a Redskins uniform.

Even though he had a great numbers in his rookie season with McNabb, registering 55 reception for 762 yards and four touchdowns, Maclin stated he was extremely excited about the opportunity to work with Kevin Kolb.

"I'm excited man," Maclin said. "Kevin (Kolb)'s shown flashes of what he can do and he's obviously a great quarterback and I'm looking forward to kind of getting out there and working with him a little more and hopefully we can spread the ball around a little bit.

Maclin went a step further saying that what impressed him the most about Kolb is his ability to lead the team. Not only his ability to lead the team, but do it with only limited opportunities over his first three seasons.

"For a guy who hasn't had much NFL experience as far as actually playing in games, he definitely shows a lot of leadership and that's definitely kind of rare for a guy who hasn't been out there doing much,” he said.

“But I think that's his number one thing and I think if you have a guy who's a leader behind center he can take you a long way."

As for fourth year wide receiver Jason Avant, who had become McNabb’s go-to guy when things got tough and a safety blanket, it was a bittersweet day.

This past season, Avant set career-highs with 41 receptions for 587 yards and three downs. His performance in 2009 and connection he established with McNabb allowed him to receive a five-year extension this offseason.

Today, when speaking about McNabb, Avant spoke very highly and sincerely about his former quarterback. The sure-handed wide receiver felt depressed about the trade. He stated it was a “sad”day in the franchises history to see such a great era coming to end. Yet at the same he thought it gives the young players on the team a chance to shine.

"It's a sad day for the Philadelphia Eagles, but it's an exciting day," he said. "It's an exciting day for McNabb that his future goes on. It's exciting that the younger guys get a chance, but it's sad day because one of the greatest Eagles ever has left the Eagles.

Avant, a fourth-round pick out of Michigan, discussed that he could not thank McNabb enough for showing him how to be a professional on and off the field. McNabb taught him how to prepare for life in the NFL and even invited him to trade to Arizona to workout with him each offseason to improve his skills.

"It's kind of disheartening,” Avant said. “I love the guy. I wish he was here, but God has a plan for him. I'm glad he's going to be on a winning team, but it's kind of hard for us. We're excited about our future, but let Donovan know from this interview that I loved playing with him in my time here with him. I think he put me in great positions, taught me a lot of things. I'm eternally thankful for it."

Even though Avant was upset by the news, he believes Kolb will be a success in Philadelphia. He has no doubts the team will be fine, but the team must find the leadership that McNabb takes with him to Washington.

"We know that (Kolb) has a great future,” Avant said. “We know that Mike (Vick) is a Pro Bowl quarterback. We definitely know that the team will be all right.

"It's just that losing a guy like Donovan in the locker room, his personality, it's just going to be different. We have to find new leadership and we have to find it soon."

The always-reserved Avant, might be one of those guys that fills the void of the departed McNabb. His teammates have looked to him in the past as one of the quiet leaders, similarly to Brian Westbrook, that leads by example. Against the Broncos, he made an unbelievable catch for a touchdown to spark the Eagles to a 30-27 victory in week 16 this past season. Although Avant confirmed that he will continue to do what he does and not change the player he is.

"I am who I am. It's not going to change anything," Avant said. "I'm not going to press to do anything. Most of all, I want to lead by example and let my words be few."

Besides Avant and Maclin, the most-dangerous player on the Eagles roster took a different approach to the trade finally commencing. He felt that a huge burden had been lifted off of the young team’s shoulders with the trade being announced.

My first thought was -- not to say, "About time" -- but just sitting around with just the rumors ... it was just kind of tough for the team," Jackson said. "Not knowing who was going to be here and who was going to stay.

“It's almost kind of a relief to know what we have here and just to go forward."

The Pro Bowl wide receiver, talk about how the youth of the team would not be a disadvantage in 2010 for the Eagles. Furthermore, he believes that the team will be just as potent next year as this past season with McNabb under center.

"I see us as the young guns, coming in and taking advantage of a lot of great opportunities in Philadelphia," Jackson said. "We're here for the long haul."

Although one of the emerging stories has been bubbling to the surface over the last couple of months was that he and McNabb did not have the best relationship. Moreover, analyst and sources close to the situation believed the team wanted Kolb as the quarterback for the team.

Jackson addressed that rumor by saying the young group of players will be “able to relate to each other” better with Kolb leading the way. However, he does not know where the story began, where he and the rest of the team wanted Kolb over McNabb.

"I don't know why anybody would think that," Jackson said. "Whatever the case was, if McNabb would have stayed another year ... that's not my decision."

Like his fellow teammates at the wide out position, the Eagles dealing McNabb to Washington caught him off guard.

"One thing that caught me off guard was him staying in the division,” Jackson said. “Us being able to play him two times a year.

“The biggest thing I can say is I know when it is time for us to play him, he will go out there and give it his best shot and beat us…I say for him I hope the best, but the biggest thing for us is to go out there and beat him."

Like Jackson, many fans and even experts have a hard time visualizing McNabb wearing a Redskins uniform next year. Most could not understand why the Eagles would make such a move that could potentially comeback to haunt the team twice a year for the next three-to-four years.

Despite McNabb being an enemy now, Kolb has the tools and the arsenal at his disposal to be become a very good, if not great quarterback. He already has the confidence from his talented wide receiving corps. If that confidence continues to grown, Eagles’ offense might soaring to new heights that they have never seen before.

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