If this were a different preseason, one without so many injuries and a Michael Vick signing, people might be paying a lot more attention to the Eagles' cornerback situation.

Just rewind to one year ago, and you'll remember how the Eagles had three starting cornerbacks for two starting positions.

How could that possibly work? It was a popular storyline.

Of course, it didn't work. Lito Sheppard spent the season as the discontented odd man out who eventually fell to fourth on the cornerback depth chart behind Joselio Hanson.

Sheppard is now with the New York Jets, the team the Eagles will face in their preseason finale Thursday night at the Meadowlands, but the cornerback situation at One NovaCare Way isn't all that different this season.

The Eagles again have three starting cornerbacks and still only two starting positions. All indications are that Asante Samuel and Sheldon Brown will remain the starters, but Ellis Hobbs, acquired from New England during the draft weekend for two fifth-round picks, says he should be a starter.

"It doesn't matter to me what the depth chart says," Hobbs said. "I'm working to be number one. I want to be a starter anywhere I go. I don't play backseat to anybody. We'll see how it plays out, but I'm always striving to be the best. Being in this business and being a starter all the years I have been, I don't look to go backward."

It's possible he had a similar conversation with defensive coordinator Sean McDermott after practice Sunday. The two men sat talking for more than 20 minutes and were the last to leave the field. Hobbs did not want to talk about what the two discussed.

After a shaky game two weeks ago at Indianapolis, Hobbs rebounded with an outstanding effort in the Eagles' 33-32 preseason win over the Jacksonville Jaguars.

"That's what I try to do every time I play," he said. "That's what I've been doing for four years."

Could Hobbs be happy as anything other than a starter?

"I can handle anything," he said. "It's just that my mentality is to be the best and be out there playing all the time. Obviously many things come into play. Everybody's opinion is different about who the best 11 guys are. I have no control over that. What I have control over is how I play and what I do on the field. All I know is what you saw on the field is who I am. They have to be the judge."

Hobbs started 49 games in his four seasons with the Patriots, including all 16 games in 2007 and 2008. He had some great memories in those four seasons, including a near-perfect season two years ago, but he left New England an angry man.

Like Brown right now and Sheppard a year ago, Hobbs thought he deserved a contract extension for his play. Coach Bill Belichick and the Patriots obviously felt otherwise, so now Hobbs is going into the final year of his rookie deal and will be paid a base salary of $2.55 million.

"The trade was beneficial for me, because I started going down the wrong path," Hobbs said. "There were going to be plenty of problems there. When it happened, it was more of a relief for me. I felt like I didn't get my just due when I was there, but I'm one of many that didn't get their just due there. It has happened before, and it won't stop. I was just one guy before the next guy."

That sounds similar to what Brown was saying about the Eagles during his off-season contract dispute, and now the two are competing for a starting job. Brown said he understands if Hobbs thinks he should be the starter.

"He was a starting corner in this league, so obviously he should feel that way," Brown said. "I feel like I'm better than half the corners in the league, so that's why I did what I did [during the off-season]. There is always competition. For me, it's easy to rise to the occasion because I've always in competition. Nothing rattles me."

Brown, in his eighth season, has never missed a regular-season game, but he sat out the last two preseason games because of sore ribs. He has returned to practice this week, albeit with limited reps.

"I think I'll be fine," Brown said. "It could be nagging, but I doubt it will. I've always been a guy who has been able to heal in a short amount of time."

Brown and Hobbs are considered durable players. Hobbs, in fact, said people in New England did not realize how hurt he was during the team's 18-0 run to the Super Bowl two seasons ago.

"I played with a torn labrum in my shoulder and a sports hernia," Hobbs said. "Not one day did I shut it down. I was a starter and on special teams, and I did anything that was required. Guys were dogging it and tanking it sometimes. I mean, put it out there, some guys were faking injuries and getting a certain amount of dollars."

Brown and Hobbs want to make a lot more money in the near future. Only one is likely to be in the starting lineup when the season opens Sept. 13 in Carolina.

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