McNabb looks for a warm reception from Eagles fans

By Simon Evans

MIAMI (Reuters) - Washington Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb returns to Philadelphia on Sunday to face the Eagles in a game with more story lines than a soap opera.

McNabb, the Eagles' signal-caller for 11 years, comes up against Michael Vick -- the man he recruited to Philadelphia and ultimately replaced him.

A strong-armed, six-time Pro Bowler, McNabb had a complex relationship with Philadelphia's demanding fans, who were bitterly disappointed the Eagles could not win the Super Bowl.

That record leads McNabb to hope for a warm welcome from his former fans at sold-out Lincoln Financial Field.

"Hopefully cheers," he said. "It's been 11 great years. I mean, you wouldn't expect me to say I'm going to get booed, would you?

"But 11 years have been great, and that's one you just can't forget.

"There were a lot of people who were accepting of the things I was able to do, and respected me as a person and as a player, so I do feel like I was appreciated there."

The Redskins are 1-2 and, having lost two straight, will be desperate for a win against their NFC East rivals. But they are up against the 2-1 Eagles who have a quarterback in top form.

Vick served 18 months in jail for his role in a dog fighting ring and without a team upon his release and no football experience for two years, it was McNabb who persuaded the Eagles to give him a chance as a reserve last season.

After McNabb was traded to Washington, Vick became the back-up to Kevin Kolb but a concussion to the Eagles starter handed Vick his chance and he has taken it with style.

VICK SHINES

Six touchdown passes, zero interceptions, 750 yards and one rushing score in the opening three games are impressive stats but just as notable has been the composed yet alert way in which Vick has seized his opportunity.

"Mike and I have been very good friends for almost 15 years now, so I'm just happy he's had this opportunity and he's really kind of flourished in it," McNabb said.

"One thing I wanted to do was give a guy an opportunity, give him a second chance.

"So many people turned their back on him.....Now people are starting to learn more about Mike the person, not just the football player."

"Everything I saw Don doing, I tried to emulate that," said Vick, who played six years with the Atlanta Falcons. "Everything Andy tells me to do, I do. It paid off for Donovan and I want the same thing."

Another tight divisional match-up in week four comes on Monday when the Miami Dolphins (2-1) host their AFC East rivals, the New England Patriots (2-1).

Both teams have lost to the New York Jets (2-1) and neither will want to drift into third place in a tough division.

The Pittsburgh Steelers, Chicago Bears and Kansas City Chiefs are the NFL's only unbeaten teams.

While the Chiefs have a bye week, the Steelers host Baltimore (2-1) and the Bears visit the struggling New York Giants (1-2).

(Editing by Steve Ginsburg)