Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb figures this is the year his career takes off.
''I expect to skyrocket, and the only way I can do this is by being a leader and getting everybody the ball,'' McNabb said this past weekend at the Eagles' training camp at Lehigh University.
The comment naturally was welcomed by Eagles offensive coordinator Brad Childress.
''I'm glad he feels that way,'' Childress said Monday after helping to oversee the final early-arrivals workout before the veterans reported to camp later in the day. ''It's hard to quantify what 'skyrocket' means, but if he feels that way, that's great.''
Childress, meanwhile, took a look at some numbers to quantify where he wants to see overall improvement in his offense. A year after wanting to see his unit rely more on a ground attack in short yardage situations, Childress is focusing on two areas going into the new season:
''Third-down conversion percentage.
''Plus-20 touchdown percentage,'' which essentially means producing big plays.
The Eagles converted 39 percent (90-of-231) third downs into first downs, 20th-best among the NFL's 32 teams.
Only three teams scored more points than the Eagles' 415 last season, producing points on 49 (27 touchdowns, 22 field goals) of 57 trips inside the 20. (The Eagles' point total includes three special teams or defensive TDs).
The Eagles also scored on touchdown runs of 47 and 40 yards by Dorsey Levens and Donovan McNabb, respectively, and touchdown catches of 59, 42 and 39 yards by Antonio Freeman, Todd Pinkston and James Thrash, respectively.
Taking it easy: McNabb and fellow veterans Correll Buckhalter and Derrick Burgess were told to sit out Monday's final practice session for early arrivals. Rookie fourth-round pick Jamaal Green was excused because of leg cramps.
At 'The Linc': Eagles officials estimate nearly 100,000 people showed up at Lincoln Financial Field over the weekend for open-house viewings of the new stadium in South Philly.
''We even saw some who were here who came back with their friends,'' Eagles senior vice president Don Smolenski said, estimating 41,000 season ticket holders visited Saturday and 55,000 other fans showed up Sunday.
The stadium will host its first game Sunday, when Manchester United and FC Barcelona face off in a soccer game.
Bruce Springsteen concerts follow Aug. 8, 9 and 11 before the Eagles make their first appearance at the Linc Aug. 22 for an exhibition game vs. the New England Patriots.
VIP sightings: Philadelphia Charge women's pro soccer players Heather Mitts and Lorrie Fair attended Monday's practice session.
''The duo appeared to have a special interest in the quarterback drills,'' an Eagles official noted.
Mitts is the girlfriend of Eagles backup quarterback A.J. Feeley.
Elsewhere in the NFC East: Brian Mitchell, the Eagles' all-purpose back for three seasons before signing with the New York Giants as a free agent, is warming his mouth up for the season.
''When I pick up a check on Monday, it's going to say 'New York Giants,''' Mitchell told The New York Post. ''So, I don't care if the Eagles or the Redskins or the Cowboys, whoever, likes me on Monday morning.''
Yes, Mitchell's former teammates in Philly can expect nothing to be out of bounds when it comes time for him to select trash-talk material.
''You're wearing a different colored uniform, and I knew your girlfriend's name? I might say something,'' Mitchell told The Post.
Stay away: Training camp is not open to the public today. Fans will be allowed back in Wedensday, when 11 days of two-a-day workouts begin with 8:45 a.m. and 2:45 p.m. sessions.
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