Eagles Notes

Quarterbacks who are on the way out usually don't get the kind of endorsement

Donovan McNabb

received from coach

Andy Reid

yesterday.

According to Reid, when you consider McNabb was coming off a serious knee injury and has been under so much scrutiny, the quarterback should be proud of the season he is having.

"Most guys really don't hit their stride until sometime in the second year after that injury, and Donovan has done nothing but get better each week," Reid said. "I'm looking at the small things. He's playing very confident football right now and has a great feel for the receivers around him.

"I know Donovan has gone through some ups and downs and has been under the microscope, to say the least, a microscope with a large lens," Reid added. "He's handled himself, I think, very well, and he should be very proud of what he's done this year."

In Sunday's 38-23 win over New Orleans, McNabb looked more mobile and confident than at any other time this season. He completed 24 of 35 passes for 263 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. He also took off on a 40-yard run. He joined

Ron Jaworski

as the only Eagles quarterbacks to pass for more than 25,000 yards in a career.

Evening the score.

Reid singled out center

Jamaal Jackson

for successfully handling Saints defensive tackle

Hollis Thomas

, a former Eagle.

"Jamaal had a big challenge with Hollis," Reid said. "Hollis played pretty well the last time we played them, and I know Jamaal wanted to come back and do a nice job. I thought he did an excellent job."

Dawkins report.

Reid said an MRI exam on

Brian Dawkins'

sprained foot revealed that it's not injured as badly as originally thought.

Reid also believes the injury-ravaged season the 34-year-old Dawkins has endured can be attributed to his inability to focus on conditioning during the off-season, when his wife,

Connie

, delivered twins prematurely. Reid said Dawkins planned to return next season.

"Dawk had a crazy off-season. He missed some minicamps and so on," Reid said. "It was for a great cause, with the twins and his wife and the condition she was in. He did the right thing. However, that comes back and gets you a little bit during the regular season. He's been playing a bit of a catch-up. With a good off-season - the twins are doing great, Connie's doing great - he'll do fine."

Injury report.

Tight end

Matt Schobel

was held out of Sunday's game as a precaution. Reid said Schobel, out with a concussion, wanted to play and should be ready against Buffalo. . . . Cornerback

Lito Sheppard

suffered a knee contusion and linebacker

Omar Gaither

a quadriceps contusion. They are listed as day-to-day for practice this week.

Birdseed.

In the Statistics Can Be Misleading Department, the Eagles are tied for sixth in the NFL in total offense and fourth in the NFC. The rankings reveal how effective they have been between the 20-yard lines. In the offensive ranking that counts the most, the Eagles are 17th in the NFL in scoring and ninth in the NFC. They have scored fewer than 20 points in nine games, and their red-zone offense ranks 24th in the league. . . . With 2,005 yards from scrimmage,

Brian Westbrook

is one yard shy of equaling

Wilbert Montgomery's

team record, set in 1979. . . . The Eagles' red-zone defense is ranked No. 2 in the NFL.

- Ray Parrillo