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Ankle, thumb injuries keep McNabb out of Eagles' practice

PHILADELPHIA -- Donovan McNabb didn't need a cane or
crutches to walk around, and he joked that ballet dancing was part
of his rehab routine.

His sense of humor is intact, though a gimpy ankle and sore
thumb could keep the five-time Pro Bowl quarterback on the sideline
when the Eagles visit New England on Sunday.

McNabb didn't practice Wednesday because of a sprained right
ankle and a swollen thumb sustained in Philadelphia's 17-7 win over
Miami. McNabb hurt the thumb on his throwing hand early and left
after injuring his ankle in the second quarter.

A.J. Feeley led the Eagles to a pair of touchdowns and would
start against the Patriots if McNabb can't play.

"You want to have all of your faculties intact before you get
back out and be competitive again," McNabb said. "You want to be
smart, but you also want to go out there and play."

McNabb didn't have a noticeable limp when he chatted briefly
with reporters at his weekly news conference. He then headed to the
trainer's room for more rehab.

Coach Andy Reid said McNabb's ankle swelled up Tuesday. A day
earlier, it seemed the thumb injury was more of a concern.

"Right now the ankle is a little more swollen than the thumb,"
Reid said. "We'll take it day by day and see how he goes."

McNabb was hurt almost one year to the day he tore a knee
ligament against Tennessee. He rehabbed vigorously following that
injury, returned well ahead of schedule and started every game this
season. A feared scrambler, McNabb was just starting to regain his
speed and mobility when he went down again.

It's the fourth time in six years McNabb has been hurt shortly
before Thanksgiving. He didn't return in the regular season the
first three times, missing a total of 19 games. The Eagles were
12-7 in those games, and 1-1 in the playoffs without him last year.

The Eagles (5-5) are a 22-point underdog against the unbeaten
Patriots (10-0), so it might not make a difference who plays
quarterback. McNabb dismissed the idea he'd sit out to get ready
for important home games against Seattle and the New York Giants
the first two weeks in December.

"I don't believe in conserving yourself," McNabb said. "I
don't believe in sitting back and waiting for another team or
sitting out trying to get yourself ready for next week."

It's possible McNabb could start Sunday without practicing the
rest of the week. Running back Brian Westbrook often plays despite
missing practice, including last week when he had a career-best 148
yards rushing against Miami.

"I'm comfortable with it," McNabb said. "It works for other
players. Maybe I'll try it. In my position, it's important to work
with receivers to get your timing down."

Westbrook agreed.

"He knows what he's doing and I don't doubt that he'll know the
game plan inside and out," Westbrook said. "The major difference
with a quarterback not practicing is he has to get his timing down
with other receivers."

Feeley started the last five games in 2002 after McNabb broke
his ankle and backup Koy Detmer got hurt. He went 4-1 and led
Philly to first place in the NFC before McNabb returned for the
playoffs.

Feeley completed 13 of 19 passes for 116 yards, one touchdown
and one interception against the Dolphins in his first action since
the regular-season finale last year.

"It's nothing out of the ordinary," Feeley said. "It's what I
do as a backup. You never know if you're going to play."

Though numbers say the Eagles run the ball more when McNabb
doesn't play, Feeley and Reid insist the offense stays the same.

"We wouldn't change anything," Reid said. "It's the same game
plan with or without Donovan."

Besides McNabb, strong safety Quintin Mikell missed practice
with a sprained knee ligament. If Mikell can't play, third-string
safety J.R. Reed would start his first meaningful game.

"It's a great opportunity for me to step in and play," said
Reed, whose career nearly ended because of a freak injury in 2005.