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NFC NOTES

They Are Healthy and Happy

January 27, 2002|Sam Farmer

ST. LOUIS — Ram cornerback Aeneas Williams and Eagle quarterback Donovan McNabb are playing in the NFC championship game, and that has folks at a Phoenix training center feeling good.

Williams and McNabb spent part of the off-season working out with each other at Rehab Plus, which uses some off-beat methods to get pro athletes in condition.

"It's kind of one-stop shopping for human performance," said Warren Anderson, executive director of the facility.

One drill has McNabb throwing passes and Williams catching them--while both are standing on balance beams. Another has them defending a soccer goal by batting away odd-shaped pet toys fired at them from close range. Then, there's the task of one-hopping an onslaught of lacrosse balls.

"We'll take things from the military, martial arts and from boxing, just plain science too," Anderson said. "Our motto is, stay healthy and make plays."

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Williams said defending against McNabb is getting tougher because, as he matures as a quarterback, he's relying on his running ability to buy time for the pass, not to release upfield.

"Before, you were more concerned with him running for long yardage," Williams said. "But now he's not just looking to run. He's actually looking to make a play throwing the ball in what I call a gray area. ... Linebackers and secondary guys are in a very uncomfortable situation whether to go try and tackle him or stay back and cover your guy. So he's done a tremendous job getting rid of the ball very near the line of scrimmage."

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Point spread? What point spread? Philadelphia defensive end Hugh Douglas insists he isn't bothered the Eagles are 11-point underdogs.

"When I go home, I usually play video games and stuff so I really don't watch TV," he said. "I really don't know about the point spread, and I really don't care about what the media is saying. The game is played on the field, bottom line."

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Ram Coach Mike Martz thinks his players are better equipped to handle Philadelphia's blitz than they were in the opener, when Kurt Warner was sacked four times.

"Initially, we didn't handle it very well," Martz said.

"I think they have come a long way defensively, and I think we have come a long way offensively in those situations. Everybody during the course of the season has felt like they need to blitz Kurt to get to him and to disrupt him and to win the game. He's been able to do a remarkable job in dealing with everybody's blitz problems."

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Chunky Soup has to be pleased with the matchup. McNabb and Warner endorse the product and, in the commercials, are reminded by their mothers to get their fill of soup.

By the way, those women aren't their real moms.

"I don't know if our moms at home know each other," Warner said. "Maybe they'll meet this weekend."

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Flying High

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Sam Farmer

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