For Correll Buckhalter, Thursday night's game against Baltimore was the perfect medicine. Hoping that his injury problems are behind him, Buckhalter made his first start of the pre-season and was impressive. The highlight of the night for Buckhalter was a 48 yard catch-and-run from Donovan McNabb. "It was a screen call and they ran a bomb-rush, which is kind of like an all-out blitz," said Buckhalter in describing the play. "So I just sat in there patiently and then I got out. [RT Jon] Runyan did a good job of shutting his man and Donovan flipped me the ball and I got downfield behind my lineman."
Buckhalter would be considered a much more serious threat for the offense if not for the injuries that he's suffered. Three of the last four seasons, Buckhalter has been sidelined with injuries, limiting his opportunities to show his talents on the field. Buckhalter knows that he has more work to do to get ready for the season, but physically, he's feeling good, which is more than half the battle for Buckhalter. "I feel great, man. I feel like the old twenty-eight. I think I'm still a little rusty, there are some things I need to work on," said a smiling Buckhalter.
McNabb is glad to have Buckhalter back in the lineup and is hoping things go well. "I'm very excited for him. For him to come back and bounce back this strong, we cheer for him," said McNabb. "He can regain some confidence from this and be able to move on. Buck has been doing a great job of rehabbing and getting himself stronger to get back out here. It's a great thing to see him out here."
With his first game back, Buckhalter has taken a big step to reclaiming his spot on the Eagles offense. Now, he's just taking it all in stride, starting with his return in Baltimore. "All the glory goes to God. I was just looking forward to playing. I just did what I did in practice, I took it one play at a time. I was able to make a big play by the great blocking of the offensive line."
Buckhalter finished the night with five carries for eight yards and his one catch that netted the team 48 yards. Obviously though, just the fact that Buckhalter was back on the field gives hope for bigger things down the road.
Other game comments...
On using the no-huddle offense: "It went well for us. We practice it every day somewhat. We paid a lot of attention to it this offseason. It was good to see that we were able to move the ball, spread the ball around a little. The most important thing when it comes down to it is that we got the ball in the endzone, we got a field goal. It's just something to work on right now, that's what the preseason's for."
On how scoring on the opening drive is how he wants to open games: "It definitely is. Just from the way we've been working all through training camp, through the mini-camps, it's kind of a reward. Hopefully we'll continue it on. We've got some more work to do. We'll look back at the film and learn from it. It's an exciting deal right now."
On his play against the pass, knocking down two passes: "I'm more concerned with the one I didn't make, on that 17 yard pickup. Those are the ones that you want back. The other plays, I should have picked one. All in all we didn't give up a touchdown and that's what I like about this defense. That's what we set out to be as a unit and thus far in the preseason we are being that."
On going against a good rushing team with larger running backs than they have faced this preseason: "It was a great test for us. Jamal [Lewis] was hurt all of last year but he's coming back. They have Mike Anderson. Those are two great, powerful backs and we were tested today. We came out on top but there are still some runs that we would like to have back."
On what he would like to improve on after tonight: "I'll have to look at the tape. It's hard for me to tell what happened with some of the run-gaps and responsibilities. Even on that long screen we can't give up those big plays. So those are the types of things we will look at on tape and try to get better at."
On the play where he sacked Steve McNair and forced a fumble that Brian Dawkins recovered: "We finally got the quarterback to step back. He didn't step up like he was doing all day long. So once he stayed back I was able to get my hand in there. I'm a selfish-sacker. Call me S.S. for the selfish sacker. When I get in there I'm gonna go for the ball too."
On how tough it was to get to McNair: "It's very tough. They had a pretty good scheme going. They packed down the middle and then the QB stepped up in the pocket. As the game went on we did a good job of stopping the run. Once you stop the run, then you gotta play the pass."
On playing against the big running backs of the Ravens: "It's a great test for us and we got to play a whole half. That's the whole thing. It's all up front. Stop the run and then you gotta play the pass."