- The Washington Times - Thursday, December 13, 2001

Hothead Terrell Owens of San Francisco leads the NFC with 13 touchdown catches. Egomaniac Randy Moss of Minnesota is second with eight. Next on the list is Philadelphia's James Thrash, their complete opposite in temperament and fame.
While Owens and Moss make headlines with their on-field actions and their off-field comments, Thrash has gone about his business in the quiet, hard-working style that characterized his previous four seasons with the Washington Redskins. After three years as a spare part, Thrash caught 50 passes for 653 yards and two touchdowns in eight starts for the 2000 Redskins after Michael Westbrook was hurt. With four games left this year, Thrash tops the NFC East-leading Eagles with 49 catches, 649 yards and those seven touchdowns.
"I was thinking of being the second or third receiver and getting the opportunity to compete for a starting job and I was pretty sure I was going to play on special teams," said the 26-year-old Thrash, who signed a five-year, $8million contract with the Eagles on March9, an offer the Redskins didn't come close to matching. "Coach [Andy] Reid told me that I would have a great chance to compete and it has worked out for the best."
It certainly has for the 8-4 Eagles. Thrash almost certainly will wind up as Philadelphia's most productive receiver since Irving Fryar in 1997. That was also the year the Eagles cut rookie Thrash before they even opened training camp. Washington quickly signed the undrafted free agent from Division II Missouri Southern and he was a preseason sensation with two kickoff return touchdowns. Thrash had more kick returns than catches during his Redskins tenure, but having Brian Mitchell, the NFL's all-time leading kick returner, on hand has enabled the Eagles to let Thrash focus on catching passes.
"James is a very good receiver," Redskins coach Marty Schottenheimer said. "He has excellent hands. He's deceptively fast. He's very smart. He's competitive."
Ask any teammate and they'll say it's Thrash's determination that sets him apart.
"The guys who were here when James was before had told me about his work ethic and he has been what I expected," Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb said. "When you work hard and you do the things that are best suited for this offense, things like that [seven touchdowns] happen. I definitely have confidence in James."
So much so that McNabb threw consecutive deep passes to Thrash on third-and-1 and fourth-and-1 in last week's 24-14 victory over San Diego. The first ball grazed off Thrash's fingertips, but he caught the next one for a 24-yard gain at the Chargers' 11-yard line. Duce Staley scored the winning touchdown three plays later.
"[Reid] was aggressive and I like that," said Thrash, who also credited McNabb for a great throw.
Returning the compliment, the quarterback lauded the big-play ability of his favorite target, who has five of Philadelphia's 11 catches for longer than 30 yards.
"James has done a lot for us," McNabb said. "We want to thank the Redskins for giving him to us. James and I had the opportunity to be together during the offseason. When you have an opportunity like that, good things happen."
Like those seven touchdowns. Only two Eagles (Fryar with 11 in 1996 and Calvin Williams with 10 in 1993) have caught more scoring passes in the past decade.
"James has given us the deep threat that we had been looking for," Eagles offensive tackle Tra Thomas said.
Thrash said his forays into the end zone have occurred because of Reid and McNabb.
"We emphasize the red zone and Donovan makes so many things happen down there," Thrash said. "It's more the offensive line giving Donovan time and him making things happen. I've just been in the right spot at the right time."
In Philadelphia.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide