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Smith ready to go

When former Giants receiver Steve Smith signed a one-year, $4-million contract with the Eagles, he thought he would be ready to start the regular season after recovering from knee surgery. It appears the former Giants receiver is spot on with that timetable. Smith practiced Saturday for the first time since joining the Eagles and said he was on track to play in the opener against St. Louis.

"I think I'll be able to, [but] it's up to what the coaches and trainers want me to do," Smith said after practice. "I'm feeling good, and as long as we have no setbacks, that's what I'm shooting for."

Smith wasn't the Eagles' only receiver to return to practice Saturday. Former first-round wideout Jeremy Maclin, who was cleared by doctors after being stricken with an unknown illness, also was catching passes from Michael Vick.

Tebow's stock falls

A year after being selected in the first round, Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow might begin the season as the team's third-string quarterback. A surprise development for the former Florida star? It shouldn't be.

Gone is Josh McDaniels, who made the decision to draft Tebow last year. In McDaniels' place is John Fox, one of the most conservative coaches in the NFL. The former Panthers' head coach is strictly meat-and-potatoes when it comes to running his football teams, and the formula will be no different in Denver: play good defense, run the football, and don't turn it over.

That's not the place for a freewheeling quarterback like Tebow, whose mechanical flaws include a slow, looping release and questionable field vision. Remember, Fox went with journeyman Jake Delhomme until he intercepted his way out of Carolina. So there should be no surprise whatsoever he prefers the more accurate, if less explosive, Kyle Orton to run his offense.

Wrong team, wrong coach for Tebow. The Broncos would be smart to consider trading Tebow if they get the right offer, because he'll never be Fox's guy.

Wayne doubts Collins

The Colts had to persuade Kerry Collins to come out of retirement as an insurance policy for Peyton Manning, whose status remains uncertain because of offseason neck surgery. Good thing they didn't include wide receiver Reggie Wayne in the recruiting process.

Not long after Collins arrived in Indianapolis on Wednesday, Wayne called the move "a step back" and suggested the Colts should go with Curtis Painter if Manning can't play right away.

"For him to come in here and be the starter, I don't see it," Wayne told reporters. "I think that's a step back. Who says Kerry's going to be the starter? Just because we bring him in doesn't mean he's the starter. He's got to learn, too, right? Unless they gave him a playbook months ago, he's got to learn."

Collins will indeed have to get up to speed on the playbook, and perhaps the move even spurred on Painter, who had a solid game Friday night against the Packers, going 11-for-21 for 171 yards and two touchdowns in a 24-21 loss.

As for Manning, there's no telling when he'll be ready. Colts coach Jim Caldwell said that he's not sure when his prized quarterback will be ready to practice.

Protecting Vick's blind side

The Eagles have made plenty of news by signing several big-name free agents, but it's a far less heralded move they made Saturday that could be a major key to their chances. With right tackle Ryan Harris out with back problems that will require surgery, they moved left guard Todd Herremans to right tackle and put Evan Mathis at left guard.

Pass protection was a big issue for the Eagles the second half of last season, and Vick's effectiveness diminished during that time. After throwing 11 touchdowns and no interceptions in his first six games, Vick had 10 touchdowns and six interceptions in his last six.

Cam's rocky road

There have been plenty of growing pains in Cam Newton's first NFL preseason, as demonstrated by his dismal numbers in his first three games. He has led just one touchdown drive, and has completed just 40.4 percent of his passes. In his most extensive action with the starters, Newton was just 6-for-19 for 75 yards and no touchdowns in a 24-13 loss to the Bengals. He did score a rushing touchdown, and admitted afterward that he is desperate to show immediate improvement.

"I'm trying to push myself over that hump," Newton said. "I don't want that [learning] curve of three or four years. I'll be doggone if it takes me that long."

Haley 1-10 in preseason

Say this much for Chiefs third-year coach Todd Haley. He doesn't appear to put much emphasis on winning in the preseason.

In fact, Haley's record is downright abysmal when the games don't count; the Chiefs are 1-10 in the preseason after losing to the Rams on Friday night.

The Chiefs are 0-3 in the preseason, with Haley's only preseason win coming last year against the eventual Super Bowl champion Packers. The Chiefs managed to win the AFC West last year with a 10-6 record.

Haley has gone against the grain somewhat this year, choosing to start slowly and limit contact after the lockout and gradually build up the intensity. The approach has met with mixed results so far for quarterback Matt Cassel, who has completed just 44.4 percent and has zero touchdown passes to go with a 59.5 rating.

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