With McNabb’s rib injury, it’s do or die for the Eagles’ Kevin Kolb

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What we know about Kevin Kolb thus far is that we really don’t know all that much about Kevin Kolb.

Nice kid, works hard, says and does all the right things, handles himself about as professionally as you can expect. When it comes to taking over for Donovan McNabb next week because of his injury from a cracked rib, next year, or in the next era of Eagles football, well the jury remains out.

They could be back with a verdict Sunday night, perhaps sooner.

What we know about Kevin Kolb thus far is that we really don’t know all that much about Kevin Kolb.

Nice kid, works hard, says and does all the right things, handles himself about as professionally as you can expect. When it comes to taking over for Donovan McNabb next week because of his injury from a cracked rib, next year, or in the next era of Eagles football, well the jury remains out.

They could be back with a verdict Sunday night, perhaps sooner.

If Kolb starts in place of an injured McNabb, in Sunday’s home opener against the New Orleans Saints it will mark his first NFL start and his first real opportunity to show he was worth the second-round pick Andy Reid spent on him in 2007.

Last year when he was thrust into work in the second half against the Ravens in Baltimore he wasn’t ready. Not because he didn’t prepare, because Eagles backup quarterbacks are never ready.

Jeff Garcia back in 2006 revealed to the world what people around the team on a regular basis already knew, the starting quarterback gets all the work for the Eagles in practice.

This week, whether McNabb’s rib heals or not, Kolb will get most of the work in practice.

So he’ll be practicing against a defense disguised to look like what he will see from the Saints, Sunday. He’ll be handing off to Brian Westbrook, throwing to DeSean Jackson and have Jason Peters protecting his blind side. It will be just like a real game.

Kolb hasn’t had one of them yet.

Other than the fiasco in Baltimore last season, all of his other work has come after the Eagles had the game put away.

Even in Sunday’s win over the Carolina Panthers, in which he replaced McNabb in the second half, the score was 31-10, and at that point the instructions he was given were quite simple, just don’t do anything foolish.

He didn’t.

But he didn’t show anything, either, again because he didn’t really have the opportunity.

Now he will, assuming, as expected, he gets the start against the Saints.

“If I get the chance I have to produce next week,’’ Kolb said. “It’s my job to keep this running if (McNabb) can’t go. That’s what I have to do.’’

This is the chance Kolb has wanted, has waited for, has prepared for since he left the University of Houston and it couldn’t come at a more opportune time for the 25-year-old in his third NFL season.

This won’t be Baltimore’s defense with Ray Lewis and Ed Reed. It will be New Orleans’ defense with a bunch of guys who let the Detroit Lions score 27 points, Sunday.

Basically, this is a great chance for a new quarterback to succeed.

Now, if Kolb doesn’t start that may scream louder than the 65,000-plus fans who will analyze every one of his passes from the seats in Lincoln Financial Field, Sunday.

Should the Eagles opt to start an injured, injected, flak-jacketed McNabb in week two of the season over Kolb at home against New Orleans, then Kolb is destined to be a backup here his entire career. He may as well change his name to Detmer and be done with it.

Worse yet, if the team goes out, re-signs A.J. Feeley and names him the starter, Sunday, then Kolb knows his career is finished before it started. He may as well change his name to Hoying.

“I’ve got trust in Kevin to do the job,’’ Reid said, giving the company line that the team still thinks Kolb is the answer, the future, and was a good pick in ’07. “The unfortunate thing with the No. 2 guys is that they don’t get a lot of reps during the week. If he gets the chance to get some reps I think you’ll see a little more production.’’

This could actually be Kolb’s first, and maybe, his last chance to show what he can do. Michael Vick will be reinstated by the league and will come off the Eagles exempt list next week against Kansas City.

If McNabb is out and Kolb doesn’t fare well against the Saints, the cries will go out for Vick, despite the fact he hasn’t played for real in two years.

Bottom line is that’s why Vick is here, not to run the “Wildcat’’ offense, or to irritate PETA, to be McNabb’s backup, to present a viable option if McNabb is hurt.

This week however, it’s Kolb’s turn.  And it’s really the first chance to find out what we don’t already know.

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