THE STRANGE, little Donovan McNabb sore-shoulder saga seemed to be over when he threw extensively and well late last week, after Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg dismissed talk of a problem and McNabb took batting practice with the Phillies.
But McNabb's reps were limited yesterday, as another "organized team activity" took place on the sun-blasted NovaCare fields.
The quarterback, enticed into talking to reporters about Michael Strahan's retirement and McNabb's trip to Boston for Game 2 of the NBA Finals with team chairman Jeffrey Lurie, Brian Dawkins and Brian Westbrook, wasn't eager to discuss his shoulder.
Asked whether he was worried, McNabb, who added to his training regimen this offseason, said: "No. I know it'll get better."
Tantalyzing as that tidbit might have been, an attempt to follow it up was met by McNabb's quickly jumping into joke mode.
"We're talking about Strahan and we're talking about the Lakers," McNabb said. "Strahan has just signed a 10-day contract with the Lakers! We're not talking about anything that's going on here."
A reporter persisted, asking whether "it" - meaning yesterday's reduced schedule - was precautionary.
McNabb chose to pretend this was a Strahan question.
"To retire is not precautionary, it's taking care of your body," he said.
A source close to McNabb again denied anything was going on beyond normal arm soreness, as often happens when a quarterback starts working his way back into training-camp mode.
Running back Brian Westbrook was asked whether he was concerned.
"I don't think so," Westbrook said. "I don't really see Donovan being too concerned. I haven't talked to coach [Andy Reid] about it, or anything like that, or Don, or even the medical staff. I think it's a more precautionary type of deal. You don't want to throw out a quarterback's arm in minicamp, before you even get to training camp . . . Donovan, he'll be ready. He always has been, and I wouldn't expect anything less from him."
By the way, McNabb - who, like most observers, expected the Lakers to dominate when the series began - yesterday noted how important home court has been in the NBA playoffs, and said he wanted to see how the Lakers fared going home, down 2-0.
New role for Klecko
Yesterday, suddenly, Dan Klecko's wariness with reporters on Friday made perfect sense.
When workouts resumed at NovaCare, Klecko was no longer a fullback, having been moved to defensive tackle, where he has spent much of his 5-year NFL career. Klecko, an occasional fullback for the Patriots and the Colts, traded in his No. 48 jersey for No. 68, after the Birds traded for Colts fullback Luke Lawton, who became No. 45.
"I wasn't mad about [Lawton's acquisition] Friday," Klecko said. "I didn't know how much I could say, so I just tried to get out of here."
At 5-11, 275, Klecko has sometimes looked like what he is - a lineman struggling to play in space. Of course, if he makes the team at DT, there's no reason the Eagles can't run him in at fullback on the goal line, as the Pats and Colts did.
"Now I've just got to go learn this defense," Klecko said. "It was a challenge . . . I'm not going to sit and dwell on it and be mad - pick up and go."
Brian Westbrook finally held the news conference he was supposed to hold last week, when he apparently objected to not getting enough notice from the team's public relations staff.
Westbrook has had a little time now to see how things might be different with Lorenzo Booker added to the backfield, and he said he likes what he has seen.
"We're just trying to get more speed on the field," Westbrook said. "Give the defense a lot of different things they have to cover, a lot of different things they have to worry about. Lorenzo brings a big-play capability, as well, to the field. He's very fast, very shifty, has very good hands."
Westbrook said he did not get a chance to address his contract situation while watching the Lakers-Celtics with Lurie, Dawkins and McNabb on Sunday. But Westbrook, scheduled to make about $3 million this season in a deal that expires after the 2010 season, still thinks a review is in order.
"I think if you play at a high level, you should be rewarded for that," he said. "You see guys that are the best players in the league, traditionally they're rewarded for their play . . . I'm sure a lot of other players feel like they should be compensated for the things that they do, and of course, I feel the same way." *