The Philadelphia Eagles' passing offense is the NFL's fourth-best, largely because of the strength and accuracy of quarterback Donovan McNabb's arm.
But even though Philadelphia throws the ball on 62 percent of its snaps, the Ravens must be prepared for McNabb's scrambling ability.
He may not be the runner that was the second-overall selection in 1999, but McNabb is definitely a danger to make plays with his legs.
"If you watch him on film, you know he's still got it," said Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis!(/team/roster/ray-lewis/1c6d5ed3-fe49-4a89-a6b5-9e358e906ae7/ "Ray Lewis"). "I think McNabb always has that flexibility [to run or throw] because he's just so gifted at it. Anytime he pulls that ball down, he's always a threat with his legs."
When McNabb first broke into the league, the Syracuse product was quick to tuck and run in the face of a strong pass rush. Through his first five seasons, McNabb averaged 447.8 yards on the ground.
Since then, his best effort was a 236-yard showing in 2007.
Part of that drop-off is because of a sports hernia that landed him on Injured Reserve in 2005. Then, a torn anterior cruciate ligament placed him back on the list the following year.
Now, McNabb seems to have reverted to the form that led the Eagles to four-consecutive NFC Championship games.
"I think Donovan looks more like the Donovan McNabb of three or four years ago than he does of last year because he looks to me like he's 100-percent healthy from the injury," said Ravens head coach **John Harbaugh**, who spent the past 10 seasons coaching in Philadelphia. "He had the knee injury, and that slowed him down a little bit last year throughout the year.
"Toward the end of the year, you saw him becoming Donovan again, and this year he's been Donovan. He's moving around well in the pocket. He's putting his foot in the ground. He's throwing the ball well. He's the same Donovan McNabb he's always been."
That doesn't mean he is scampering all over the field, however.
McNabb is making defenses pay through the air. Leading an offense that averages 268.5 passing yards per game, McNabb has completed 227 of 382 attempts for 2,711 yards and 14 touchdowns.
He is also second in the league in completions of at least 20 yards (36), hitting targets like running back Brian Westbrook, and wideouts De'Sean Jackson and Hank Baskett.
"He's always been kind of a pocket passer, but he can get out, that definitely makes him dangerous because he's so good down the field," linebacker **Jarret Johnson** said.
McNabb attributes his development into that pocket passer to his familiarity brought from a 10-year tenure.
"I think when you get a little bit more experience in this league and begin to have been a part of different types of schemes that they throw your way - you've seen the blitz packages from different teams, you know what you may be faced with due to your personnel - you begin to register a little faster in the pocket and know where you want to go with the ball," he said in a conference call to the Baltimore media.
"I'm still using my legs if I have to, but just giving these guys an opportunity to make plays for me."
Still, whenever that green No. 5 jersey lines up in the backfield, the chance for a run always exists.
"I guess he's not as fast as he was, but you look at the numbers he puts up and everything else," defensive coordinator **Rex Ryan** said of the 6-foot-2, 240-pounder. "But he's as good a quarterback as you'll face. He gives you that run-pass threat. [He's a] big guy, hard to bring down, so this is going to be a huge challenge for us."
Several players were upgraded on the Ravens' Thursday injury report, as left tackle **Jared Gaither** was the only one that did not participate in practice.
Gaither is working through a right shoulder injury, and his status for Sunday is still in question.
"He's rehabbing and working to get it better, and that's what it's at," Harbaugh said Wednesday. "You saw today it's in a sling, so we just have to see how it progresses."
Meanwhile, wideout **Derrick Mason** (shoulder), cornerback **Samari Rolle** (shoulder) and safety Ed Reed!(/team/roster/ed-reed/89ece203-7de4-4b40-9651-f16f4c3b7699/ "Ed Reed") (neck), all of whom were held out Wednesday, were limited during Thursday's session.
Offensive lineman **Davie Hale** (thigh), right tackle **Willie Anderson** (ankle) and defensive tackle **Lamar Divens** (shoulder) were also limited.
Click here for the full Thursday injury report.
With one more 100-yard receiving game, wideout **Mark Clayton** will become the Ravens' all-time leader in that category. Right now, he and Derrick Alexander are tied with six 100-yard games each. … Offensive coordinator **Cam Cameron** was happy with tackle **Chad Slaughter’s** first few practices with the team after he was signed Tuesday. Slaughter was in training camp with the Ravens. "He's an outstanding pass protector, and we were just looking for another guy that potentially could play on the left side and pass protect," Cameron said. "And he came and did a nice job before, and he came in, heck, he practiced a lot yesterday and picked up right where he left off." … Special teams coordinator **Jerry Rosburg** expressed confidence in returner **Yamon Figurs**, but noted that he would consider using other Ravens in the return game. "He's our returner right now," Rosburg said of Figurs. "We've got him back there. We do have other guys that can return the ball, and they're always looking for opportunities. It's a situation, what we call - as I've said previously - sometimes certain guys run certain returns back. But we expect big things out of Yamon."
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