Shawn Andrews says not to believe any of the salacious rumors about his absence from the Eagles. Don't even believe the more mundane "speculation that I just don't want to go to camp," Andrews said in a phone conversation with the Daily News from his home in Arkansas Monday afternoon.

"I'm willing to admit that I've been going through a very bad time with depression," the Eagles' two-time Pro Bowl right guard said. "I've finally decided to get professional help. It's not something that blossomed up overnight. I'm on medication, trying to get better."

Andrews didn't want to go into the origins of his depression, which he said began a little more than a year ago and steadily worsened. "I really was kind of at my end," he said. "I've really had a lot on my mind, really (been) contemplating a lot of things."

Anyone who has been through such struggles knows the symptoms he is dealing with -- a frantic, anxious feeling, inability to sleep or concentrate.

"In the state that I'm in, (had he reported), I would be at training camp physically, but mentally, I could have gotten myself hurt or gotten one of my teammates hurt," Andrews said. "But I have a meeting with my doc on Thursday, and hopefully, I'll be up that way on Friday."

Actually, if Andrews shows up on Friday there won't be anyone at camp to greet him -- the Eagles play their presesason opener that night in Pittsburgh. Saturday would probably be good for everyone.

Andrews confirmed that he is being fined more than $15,000 per day because his absence is unexcused. He praised the Eagles, though, for being understanding, despite Eagles coach Andy Reid's hints Monday that the longer Andrews stays out, the more danger there is of sub Max Jean-Gilles taking his job.

"Football is important, it's a means to an end, but my mental health, I feel like, is a lot more important," Andrews said. "That's a helluva lot of money ... Money's good, money's a necessity, but it's not everything. I can't put a price tag on my mental state."

Andrews and agent Rich Moran declined to speculate on whether they could make a case legally or through the players' association to have the fines rescinded. They said they just want to get Andrews squared away and back with the team, right now.

Andrews has been reading some of the comments fans have made online about his situation.

"I don't expect sympathy," he said. "I know there are harsh people in this world, but dang, that made me feel low. I do care what people think about me, to an extent."

Andrews, who said he has continued to work out and is in top shape, 335 pounds, said he has spoken with a few teammates. He said he hopes to speak with the team when he returns, "to stop some of the bleeding."

Andrews said he is "a fan of Max," and that "Max deserves what he works for."

Andrews said when he speaks to his teammates, "I just want to look 'em in the eye and let 'em all know -- this wasn't BS, this was for the mental health of me, I could have gone out there and gotten any one of you hurt" by not being focused.

Look for more on Andrews in Tuesday's Daily News.