Monday, May 15, 2006

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Monday, May 15, 2006

Chang to get shot as Eagles' No. 3 QB

By Bob Brookover
Philadelphia Inquirer

PHILADELPHIA — As the Philadelphia Eagles went through another mundane day at their post-draft passing camp, Timmy Chang tried to forge his way into their 2006 plans from across the ocean.

In Hamburg, Germany, the former University of Hawai'i star and the all-time NCAA passing yardage leader made his first start at quarterback since he led the Warriors to a wild 59-40 victory over Alabama-Birmingham in the Hawai'i Bowl on Dec. 24, 2004.

In his collegiate finale, Chang threw for 405 yards and four touchdowns in coach June Jones' run-and-shoot offense. In Germany yesterday, neither the numbers — 14 for 26 for 164 yards and no touchdowns — nor the result — a 13-10 Rhein Fire loss to the Hamburg Sea Devils — were nearly as impressive.

A week earlier, however, Chang came on in relief of Rhein starter Drew Henson, who suffered a knee injury in a game against the Frankfurt Galaxy, and threw a couple of touchdown passes.

Despite yesterday's disappointing performance, Chang apparently has shown enough this spring in NFL Europe. He will get an opportunity at training camp this summer to become the Eagles' No. 3 quarterback behind Donovan McNabb and Jeff Garcia.

"We like him," Eagles general manager Tom Heckert said. "If he tones down his mistakes, I think he's got a chance. I really do. The kid has tons of records, and he's shown the ability to play. He has to do it at this level, but I think he's got a chance. He's not going to be just a camp body."

Chang received brief looks as an undrafted rookie free agent with the Arizona Cardinals and Detroit Lions last summer. The 24-year-old has discovered that his 17,072 college passing yards and 117 touchdowns are a guarantee of nothing at the professional level.

"That whole year was pretty different," Chang said by telephone Friday from the Fire's training headquarters in Dusseldorf, Germany. "I went from playing football for a long time to just completely sitting out. It didn't seem like I got much of a shot in Arizona."

Heckert said Chang should get a shot with the Eagles this summer.

"Andy (Reid) always lets them play in the preseason, so that will be big for him," Heckert said. "I think he'll at least make somebody's practice squad."

Chang, who first auditioned for the Eagles over the winter, said he was thankful for the chance to play in NFL Europe after his inactive fall.

"I take nothing for granted at this point," he said. "I appreciate any experience I can get. Last year was a big eye-opener."

Chang, at 6-foot-1 and just over 200 pounds, knows he is considered small by today's NFL quarterback standards. He also knows that there is a belief that he cannot play in a conventional NFL offense after working exclusively from the shotgun at Hawai'i.

Heckert said one of the reasons the Eagles allocated Chang to NFL Europe was that they wanted him to get used to taking snaps from under center.

"We talked to the coaches over there, and they said it was a problem because he wasn't used to doing it," Heckert said. "But now, he's doing a lot better with it. He's athletic and he's got a strong arm. The kid makes plays. In college, he was a little wild and threw some interceptions, too."

He threw 80 interceptions at Hawai'i, which is an NCAA record he probably would rather not remember.

"There's a lot of stereotypes," Chang said. "It's all about proving what you can do. You can name a lot of guys who were undersized. Joe Montana was undersized (6-2), and he was the best in the game. There are other aspects you have to have, and I think I have so much more to offer."

Heckert said it was Chang's competitiveness that impressed the Eagles as much as anything when he auditioned for them.

"He threw the ball very well, and we were impressed by the kind of guy he is," Heckert said. "He's just a competitor and the kind of guy you want to play quarterback."

If Chang does beat the odds and make the roster this summer, it would likely be at the expense of Koy Detmer, who has been with the Eagles since 1997. That would be interesting because Chang broke the NCAA yardage record held by Detmer's brother, Ty.

In addition to being a backup to McNabb, Detmer has also been kicker David Akers' holder since 1999. Interestingly, punter Dirk Johnson is holding as often as Detmer at this minicamp.

A bad sign for Detmer?

"There's competition at every spot," Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said when asked about Chang's chances. "That's good for the team."


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