Kevin Kolb is counting on Andy Reid.
Whenever Kolb talks about Reid - as the quarterback did yesterday, after joining the Eagles' informal player workouts at a field in Burlington County - he uses the same phrase. Kolb said he texted the Eagles' coach during the brief thaw in the NFL lockout last month, and Reid "threw in there at the very end, he said, 'I'll do what's best for you.' He always keeps me in mind.
"He does that for all his players and all his coaches. That's what makes him great, that's why he's been around as long as any coach that's coaching right now."
What's best for Kolb is a trade to a team where he can resume the role of the young starter taking over the reins, his role here a year ago before that Game 1 concussion and the amazing re-emergence of Michael Vick. Reid has made it clear he intends to trade Kolb, but the NFL lockout has stymied that effort. The draft slipped past a month ago with player trades prohibited; the Eagles missed their best chance to add something for Kolb that would enhance the 2011 team. Now, the calendar pages keep flipping. Despite Reid's intentions, there might come a point in August or September when nobody will want to trade much for a quarterback who would have to learn a new offense on the fly. Kolb is under contract only for this season.
"You could keep going down the questions - there's a list of questions," Kolb said. "Nobody knows the answers. To say that it didn't cross my mind, I'd be lying. Again, a lot of unknowns.
"I want my opportunity. If the situation [of staying with the Eagles] can't be avoided, I'm not going to sit there and be a turd. That's not my style. I think that I've voiced my opinion, and there's nothing more I can do. Just like always, whatever situation arises, I'll just have to roll with the punches."
Nailing down that starting job, wherever, is "a big deal to me," Kolb said, but he isn't having any secret discussions with other teams, or getting any inside information the rest of us don't have.
"Really, I don't know," Kolb said, when asked whether he thought he might be back with the Birds for a fifth season. "Does anybody know right now? It's kind of radio silence, it seems like. I just don't want to get my mind set on one thing or one team or one place to live, and then something different happens."
As Daily News columnist Rich Hofmann noted yesterday, Kolb is the most talked-about player in the locked-out league. Arizona is often mentioned as a destination. But Reid said last week that no compensation was discussed when the Eagles were able to talk with potential Kolb suitors before the lockout; he said the Birds know only who might be interested, not what they would give. The media consensus seems to be that a couple of second-round picks might suffice, but the Eagles might benefit more from a player or players they could use this year.
Could these informal workouts be Kolb's last interaction with his Eagles teammates?
"It crosses your mind," he said. "That's one of the reasons I wanted to come back. Shoot, I've spent 4 years with these guys, they're more than teammates to me. That's what I was telling somebody yesterday - it's great that I can come back into town after not seeing them for 3 or 4 months, and it's like you never left. That's something that football has that I'm not sure other sports do, or maybe that sports has that regular life doesn't have, that we're all brothers in this thing together, and it's about time to start seeing each other again."
Jason Avant said there was nothing strange about working out with a teammate who probably would have been traded a month ago during a normal offseason.
"There's guys all over this country right now working out with quarterbacks, maybe from high school," Avant said. "If they'll throw it to us, we're willing to catch it.
"You can tell he's been throwing. He was pretty accurate. It's great to see him, with all the attention he's been getting in the media, to answer some questions and let him know that we love him, no matter what the situation is."
Jeremy Maclin said: "Kevin's a tremendous quarterback. There's a lot of teams in the league that'd be happy to have him."
As hard as last season was, watching Vick assume the role Kolb had thought he'd earned after 3 years of waiting, this spring might be tougher for the quarterback the Birds drafted with their first pick (in the second round) in 2007, then groomed to succeed Donovan McNabb.
"It's pretty tough, but y'all have known me for a long time, and the way that I handle things is that I kind of keep things out of my life. I don't pay too much attention to it," Kolb said after spending about 45 minutes on a warm, sunny day throwing to a receiving group that included Avant, Maclin, Brent Celek and Riley Cooper. Mike Kafka was the other QB present; Vick took the day off. "It's hard, when it has to do with my life, but I keep a positive attitude and keep moving forward, and whatever happens, I'll be ready to roll."
What's toughest, as Kolb sits at home near Dallas, fishing and working out?
"Just the unknown. One way or the other. You hope for the best, but not knowing things for your family, for myself, preparation, who to throw to, all that kind of stuff," he said. "All I can do is try to get my body right, make sure my mind's right whenever the bell rings."
Kolb, who said he has been throwing in Texas to receivers including Eagles wideout Chad Hall, said he knew Vick was organizing workouts and figured he needed to put in an appearance. He said he called Celek a few days ago, asking whether the tight end could pick him up at the airport and give him a place to stay for the rest of the week. Kolb golfed in Philadelphia Wednesday with Kafka, Cooper and guard Todd Herremans.
Kolb is sporting a beard these days, and shaggy curls. He joked that he won't shave or cut his hair until he is standing in front of a news conference, somewhere.
Brent Celek said he has added muscle in his legs and elsewhere, bulking up to 267 from 250. He said he'd like to be 260 for the season. "I got to be able to block these defensive ends, man," Celek said . . . Another Eagles tight end, former Monmouth star John Nalbone, also is participating in the informal workouts, some of which have also included Vikings running back Albert Young, from Moorestown. *
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