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McNabb's a Huge Hurdle for Rhodes & Co.

There was an easy way for safety Kerry Rhodes to describe the difficulty of containing Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb.

"He's 240!" Rhodes belted out with a laugh.

What Rhodes was referring to is McNabb's listed playing weight. At 240 pounds, McNabb has the makeup of a regulation-sized NFL linebacker or bruising fullback rather than the swift quarterback he is.

The five-time NFC Pro Bowler has been embarrassing would-be tacklers who in many instances are far superior in size and strength.

"He's a great quarterback and he can extend plays for a long time," said Rhodes. "He's not your average quarterback that's going down with an arm tackle When you go in, you have to tackle him strong, you have to be physical with him and know that he's going to break some tackles and extend some plays."

McNabb's ability to shake away defenders in the pocket and scramble away from trouble has been his forte since entering the league in 1999. When he smells pressure from the Jets this Sunday, it will be imperative for Rhodes and the rest of the pass defense to remain locked up with the Eagles receivers.

"He likes to scramble around, but he doesn't really like to scramble to run the ball, he likes to scramble to get the ball down the field," Rhodes said Wednesday. "We know that and that's one of the key things for us — we need to stay in coverage a little while longer."

But Rhodes won't let the former second overall draft pick fool him. McNabb is one of just seven players in NFL history to have amassed over 20,000 passing yards (23,023) and 2,500 rushing yards (2,761), so it's never out of the question that the veteran will opt to sprint toward a first-down marker.

Despite the 30-year-old McNabb's recent battles with injuries, Rhodes will be sure not to take the Philly quarterback lightly. In the 2005 and 2006 seasons combined, McNabb played in just 19 games due to a torn ACL in 2006 and a sports hernia and chest contusions sustained in 2005.

McNabb feels as though he's still recovering from the ACL, which he suffered against Tennessee last year.

"Obviously, coming off injury, there are a lot of different things I was capable of doing when I was healthy that I'm not able to do as quickly right now," McNabb said on a conference call with Jets reporters.

Rhodes disagreed.

"He's still Donovan McNabb — he can still make the plays. He's still that guy, still a good quarterback in this league," said the Jets third-year starting safety. "He's moving very well. The last game they played, he looked pretty good and pretty fluent. He looked like he wasn't really scared of the leg anymore."

While McNabb has remained unimpaired in 2007, the Eagles' record has not. Philly has started off 1-3, the franchise's worst start since 1999, when they lost their first four games.

While the NFC East club's record has suffered, McNabb's numbers remain high. He has thrown just one interception to five touchdowns and has an 88.6 passer rating.

Personal statistics aside, the former Syracuse Orangeman remains unhappy.

"I am not excited about the way I've played in the four weeks," said McNabb, who in 2004 became the first player in NFL history to finish a season with 30-plus touchdown passes and fewer than 10 interceptions. "It wouldn't matter if I completed 80 percent of my balls and had 2,500 yards passing in four games and we're still sitting at 1-3. There is no way you possibly can be excited. I'm not excited about the way I've played. I'm not playing bad, but I'm not playing great either."

Additionally, McNabb recognizes that the Jets are trying to turn their season around just as he and his Eagles are trying to turn around theirs.

"It's going to be an important week for us to prepare ourselves for a game in which both teams are battling to take a positive step forward," McNabb said. "They are a team who is out there looking for an identity. When they fly around the ball and guys are making plays, they are an excellent defense."

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