Kevin Kolb was back in his hometown of Stephenville on Jan. 8 when the rural Texas town became a national news story because some of the locals reported close encounters of the third kind.

The Eagles' second-year quarterback said he did not see anything unusual on the night in question, but that doesn't mean some alien life forms weren't hovering around the area.

"There were some very trustworthy people that were seeing some things," Kolb said. "I didn't know anybody personally, but some friends of my friends did, and I was there when it was going on. It was a big deal in the town, obviously. Every hotel and every restaurant was full of people. The thing is, there were multiple people who saw it."

So is Kolb a believer?

"I don't know," he said. "I don't want to believe, but who knows?"

Exactly what was soaring around the night sky in Stephenville may remain a mystery, but it's becoming crystal clear this spring that Kolb's stock is on the rise. Andy Reid was asked Tuesday if he had a clear-cut No. 2 quarterback behind Donovan McNabb right now, and the coach's answer indicated that Kolb had indeed moved ahead of veteran A.J. Feeley on the depth chart.

"I've seen improvement [in Kolb], and right now he has a seasoned veteran ahead of him and behind him," Reid said. "He has a lot of knowledge there to draw from and learn from. He's competing right now. That No. 2 spot allows him to get a few more reps than what A.J. might get in the third spot."

If Kolb has indeed moved up the depth chart, he did not see it as cause for celebration after practice yesterday.

"Not really," he said. "My ultimate goal is to have a very successful career as a starter. Right now, I'm just trying to compete every day so whenever the opportunity comes, I'm in good enough physical shape and mental shape to step in as a starter and make plays."

Kolb's situation is quite different from any he has encountered before. He started his final three years at Stephenville High School and all four years at the University of Houston, but has no idea when he'll get a chance to start again.

"It goes against the competitor's nature," offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. "They want to compete and when they don't get that opportunity right away . . . they've got to find other ways to compete. They do it in practice and preseason games."

Kolb, who will turn 24 in August, said he did approach practice and the preseason as something more.

"I'm pretty ready to practice every day," he said. "I look forward to practice and proving myself, so I try to take it as seriously as I can so the learning curve isn't so steep when I get out there. The preseason, I'll take that very seriously as well and try to treat it as a regular-season game. Hopefully that will prepare me for when I am out there."

If Kolb is the No. 2 quarterback, then Feeley has dropped to third on the depth chart one year after signing a three-year, $7.2 million deal to be McNabb's backup. Although it's obvious that Feeley has been getting fewer repetitions at these minicamps, he's not ready to concede the backup job.

"I don't get the feeling either way," Feeley said. "I just get the feeling we're practicing and playing. It's kind of beyond the whole numbers game for me. I think they know upstairs what I'm capable of doing."

You have to wonder if Feeley's stock dropped last season when he was the backup and threw eight interceptions in three games, one more than McNabb threw in 14.

"Essentially you want to play, and you want to help the team in whatever capacity that is," Feeley said. "It's not that I don't have ambitions to be a starter again and play all the time. That is what I want to do. But I don't get caught up in that stuff. . . .

"You kind of have to erase what happened last year - everybody has a bad game - and move forward. That's not going to make or break me. I don't think people here doubt my ability, and that's the bottom line."

As for the UFOs down in Stephenville, Kolb said they were good for town business.

"My buddy owns an apparel store," he said. "It's called Barefoot Athletics, and he made up all these shirts saying some different things about [the UFOs]. He made $19,000 in one day on those shirts. It was the best-selling day he ever had just because some people saw UFOs. He was pretty psyched about it."

Extra points. Cornerback Asante Samuel and rookie receiver DeSean Jackson both left practice early yesterday with mild hamstring strains. . . . Running back Brian Westbrook did not take his scheduled turn at the podium yesterday at the NovaCare Complex. A team spokesman said Westbrook had not been told in advance that it was his day to address the media. . . . Offensive lineman Mike McGlynn, a fourth-round pick from Pittsburgh, agreed to a four-year deal yesterday. He joined safety Quintin Demps as the first Eagles rookies to sign.

The Backup Plan

It appears as if Kevin Kolb, the Eagles' top pick in the 2007 draft, has moved ahead of A.J. Feeley on the depth chart at quarterback, which means he is now a Donovan McNabb injury away from being the starter. Given McNabb's injury history, the backup job with the Eagles is an important one.

The team has gone 12-10 in the 22 games that McNabb has not started since 2002. Here's a look at what the team's backup quarterbacks have done in the last six seasons:

Player               Year     Starts Att. Comp. Yds. TDs Int.

Koy Detmer         2002 1 28 19 224 2 0

A.J. Feeley          2002     5        154 86 1,011 6 5

Koy Detmer       2003 0 5 3 32 0 0

Koy Detmer       2004 1 40 18 207 0 2

Jeff Blake          2004 0 37 18 126 1 1

Mike McMahon    2005 7 207 94 1,158 5 8

Koy Detmer       2005 0 56 32 238 0 3

Jeff Garcia          2006 6 188 116 1,309 10 2

A.J. Feeley          2006 0 38 26 342 3 0

A.J. Feeley          2007 2 103 59 681 5 8

Totals                 22 856 471 5,328 32 29

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Contact staff writer Bob Brookover at 215-854-2577 or bbrookover@phillynews.com.