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McNabb will be on pitch count in camp

Dungy expects Manning back before end of preseason. Chargers extend Castillo’s deal.

Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb practices during camp at Lehigh University, in Bethlehem, Pa., Tuesday, July 22, 2008.

AP PHOTO

BETHLEHEM, Pa. — Donovan McNabb zipped passes to rookies and undrafted no-names, clearly not bothered by a shoulder injury that forced him to miss a few offseason practices.

The five-time Pro Bowl quarterback joined rookies and selected veterans Tuesday as the Philadelphia Eagles kicked off training camp at Lehigh University. Though McNabb was expected to participate all along, many watched closely to see if the shoulder affected him.

After limiting McNabb’s throws in minicamp, the Eagles shut him down during a passing camp in June because of an injury they termed “tendinitis.” McNabb called it “tightness.” No matter, he rested his shoulder, rehabbed and resumed throwing during workouts with teammates at his home in Arizona.

“I haven’t had any reoccurrence,” he said. “It’s fine, and I don’t expect to have any reoccurrence. It took rest and stretching. In this position I play, it’s just repetition and continuing to throw the routes and getting that velocity back that you would throw in game speed.”

Eagles coach Andy Reid plans to hold McNabb to a pitch count in camp. That doesn’t mean McNabb will get yanked from games in the fourth quarter if he reaches a certain number of passes the way a starting pitcher is pulled after making 100-plus pitches in a baseball game.

But McNabb probably will get more rest in practice, giving way to backups Kevin Kolb and A.J. Feeley.

“We keep a count of it each day and it feels fine now,” McNabb said.

McNabb fired several passes to second-round pick DeSean Jackson and rookie free agent Shaheer McBride in the morning practice. He drew cheers from the crowd after tossing a pretty 35-yard pass to Frantz Hardy, another undrafted rookie.

The team’s first practice in full pads is set for Saturday, so McNabb will have to wait a few more days before he can work with more familiar targets. The team didn’t get him a big-time playmaker like Chad Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald or Roy Williams, but McNabb is saying all the right things publicly.

“I love my guys,” he said.

Dungy banking on Manning

INDIANAPOLIS — Tony Dungy is certain Peyton Manning’s left knee will be ready for the Colts’ season-opener.

Heck, the Colts coach said he thinks Manning might even play during the presesason.

On Tuesday, Dungy said he was optimistic the Colts’ biggest question heading into training camp — Manning’s valuable knee — could be resolved quicker than most people expect. Manning had surgery last week to remove an infected bursa sac, a procedure doctors said would require four to six weeks to heal.

Typically, Dungy defers to the medical experts on injury matters, but the Colts’ Super Bowl-winning coach knows Manning well enough to realize keeping Manning off the field for six weeks may be tougher than the rehab process.

“I have talked to Peyton and we’re just following the doctors instructions right now,” Dungy said. “I’m hoping for four weeks, but if he’s truly out six weeks, I think it will be hard to keep him out. However it goes, he’ll be ready when he comes back.”

Manning has not spoken publicly since having surgery last Tuesday and is expected to take questions Thursday when the Colts report to Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre Haute, Ind.

Over the past decade Manning has earned a reputation as one of the league’s best and most durable quarterbacks. He has started all 160 regular-season games in his 10-year career, the second-longest streak of any quarterback in NFL history behind Brett Favre’s record of 253. Manning has never missed a playoff start, either, compiling a postseason record of 7-7, and has missed only one play in his pro career because of injury.

It’s not the first time Manning has battled a bursa sac injury.

During the SEC championship game of his senior season at Tennessee, Manning ruptured a bursa sac in his right knee then played through the injury in the Orange Bowl. He was later hospitalized when it became infected but showed no ill-effects; he produced the best statistics of any rookie quarterback in league history.

Still, this is the first time Indy enters camp with any questions at quarterback since Manning’s five-day contract holdout in 1998, his rookie season.

But Manning’s absence may have less effect this summer since Dungy, offensive coordinator Tom Moore and associate head coach Jim Caldwell had already decided to limit how many snaps the 32-year-old Manning would have in camp.

“It may be a blessing in disguise because Tom, Jim and I talked in June about giving Jim (Sorgi) some extra work with the first group anyways,” Dungy said. “Peyton would like to take every snap, but Jim (Caldwell) has scaled it back every year. It would be optimal to get a couple of weeks in, but if not I think we’ll be able to go.”

Manning won’t be the Colts’ only prominent player missing from Friday’s first practice.

Dungy expects four other starters to join Manning on the PUP list — safety Bob Sanders, last year’s NFL defensive player of the year; defensive end Dwight Freeney, the 2004 NFL sacks champion; guard Ryan Lilja and linebacker Tyjuan Hagler. All are expected to be ready for the season-opener, Sept. 7 against Chicago.

Castillo gets new deal

SAN DIEGO — Chargers defensive end Luis Castillo has agreed to a five-year contract extension through 2014 valued at more than $43 million.

The deal, announced Tuesday, will pay Castillo a guaranteed $17.5 million in signing and roster bonuses.

Castillo’s contract had been due to expire after the 2009 season.

“Since his arrival, Luis has played a huge role in the success we’ve had as a defense,” general manager A.J. Smith said in a statement. “He’s an ascending player who is committed to getting better.”

Castillo was the second of the Chargers’ two first-round draft picks in 2005. He has 13 sacks in 36 career games, including 33 starts.

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