PHILADELPHIA (AP) – A.J. Feeley prepares for every game as if he’s the starting quarterback. Only difference this week is he’s practicing as one, too.

Feeley again took snaps with the Eagles’ first-team offense Thursday when Donovan McNabb missed his second straight practice because of a sprained ankle and swollen thumb. Feeley will be ready to start against the undefeated New England Patriots (10-0) on Sunday night if McNabb can’t play.

In Philadelphia, the backup quarterback doesn’t take any snaps during the week except with the scout team unless the starter is injured. So, Feeley is working extensively with the starting unit for the first time since the preseason. He entered during the second quarter when McNabb got hurt last week, and led the Eagles to a pair of touchdowns in a 17-7 win over Miami.

“The sense of urgency for me intensifies because it could happen sooner for me to get in there,” Feeley said.

Feeley completed 13 of 19 passes for 116 yards, one touchdown and one interception against the winless Dolphins in his first action since the regular-season finale last year. He was 4-1 as a starter in the last five regular-season games in 2002, helping the Eagles finish first in the NFC after McNabb and backup Koy Detmer were injured.

A fifth-round pick by the Eagles in 2001, Feeley had a chance to play more when he was traded to Miami three years later for a second-round draft pick. But he struggled with the Dolphins, going 3-5 in eight starts. Feeley was traded to San Diego after 1 seasons in Miami and returned to the Eagles last season as the No. 3 quarterback behind McNabb and Jeff Garcia.

One of his wins with the Dolphins came against New England in Week 15 of the ’04 season. Feeley threw a 21-yard TD pass to Derrius Thompson with 1:23 left to lift Miami to a 29-28 victory over the eventual Super Bowl champions in a Monday night game.

“I remember getting banged up a little bit,” Feeley said. “It was kind of an exciting time. It was one of the highlights for me playing down there.”

Patriots coach Bill Belichick remembers it well, watching Feeley lead the Dolphins back from an 11-point deficit in the final 2 minutes.

“We have a lot of respect for him and a lot of respect for McNabb,” Belichick said. “They’re both outstanding quarterbacks.”

The last time New England faced McNabb was in its last Super Bowl appearance three years ago. The Patriots harassed and pressured McNabb throughout the game in a 24-21 victory. McNabb threw three interceptions, got sacked four times and had zero yards rushing.

If Feeley starts, Brian Westbrook could get extra work. Westbrook had career-highs in yards rushing (148) and carries (32) against the Dolphins, and his workload increased when McNabb went down last season, too.

Coach Andy Reid insisted the game plan doesn’t change when McNabb isn’t play, and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg is comfortable with Feeley.

“He’s played very well for us. He may very well fit this offense, and this offense may very well highlight some of his strengths,” Mornhinweg said. “I think here, he’s had better players surrounding him. One stop, he didn’t have much of a chance at all. The other stop, they were building the thing. It’s difficult for a quarterback to play really well when you’re building. I think those things, in combination, have worked for A.J. here.”

The Eagles (5-5) have won two straight to move within one game of a wild-card spot in the jumbled NFC. They’ll have to be flawless in all areas just to have a chance against the Patriots.

“It’s about being efficient, hanging onto the ball and not making turnovers and scoring when you’re in the red zone,” Feeley said.

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