Eagles' Vick starts tomorrow for first time since 2006

Yo, Brandon. Eagles took rookies on a tour of Philadelphia yesterday and defensive end Brandon Graham raises his arms in a Rocky impression after doing the Art Museum steps.
Yo, Brandon. Eagles took rookies on a tour of Philadelphia yesterday and defensive end Brandon Graham raises his arms in a Rocky impression after doing the Art Museum steps.
Posted: September 01, 2010

Michael Vick will take the field as an NFL team's starting quarterback tomorrow night for the first time since the final game of the 2006 season.

And, barring inury to Kevin Kolb, for the last time this season.

"I really don't feel like I have anything to prove," Vick said yesterday, as the Eagles put the finishing touches on their preparation for tomorrow night's preseason finale against the visiting New York Jets. Vick and the Eagles' subs will play against the guys Jets coach Rex Ryan doesn't mind exposing to injury; reportedly, Ryan plans to bring only 36 players to Lincoln Financial Field.

"I've just gotta go out and play my game, have fun playing the game," Vick said. "Not put too much pressure on myself, manage the game, and go out and have fun . . . The feeling [of starting] is pretty much the same. I've done this plenty of times . . . Go out there and execute, make some plays, put points on the board, get ready for [the season opener against] Green Bay."

It has been an odd preseason so far for Vick, and for the Eagles. More than a month after everybody reported to Lehigh, we seem to have gotten beyond all the questions about Vick's ill-fated 30th birthday party, and we've even exhausted the questions about how, when last season ended, Vick clearly saw himself getting a chance to compete for a starting job somewhere this summer, instead of returning here to back up Kolb.

Vick is the Eagles' 2010 No. 2 QB, for better or worse. Nobody's starter went down anywhere else this month, nudging that team toward sending a midlevel draft pick to the Birds for the three-time Pro Bowler. Jeff Garcia, the guy the Birds almost certainly would have reached for had that happened, signed with a UFL team last week.

Vick enters tomorrow's game as the Eagles' leading preseason rusher, a dozen carries for 100 yards and a touchdown. Passing has been another story; Vick's 33.7 passer rating is the worst of a group that hasn't exactly set the league on fire (Kolb 63.7, rookie Mike Kafka 53.9). Vick has completed 13 of 23 passes for 133 yards, but he has thrown for no TDs and has been picked off three times.

In the first three preseason games, Vick got the odd snap here and there with the first team, usually as a second-down change of pace, the role that didn't seem to fit him or the offense very well last season. Then he would play more regularly, with other backups, later in the game.

Vick struggled terribly in the Birds' 22-9 loss at Cincinnati Aug. 20, completing one of five passes and being intercepted twice.

Eagles coach Andy Reid said after that game that Vick, with protection breaking down, tried too hard to make something happen, forcing throws. Vick threw just one pass last week at Kansas City, an 8-yard completion, with Kolb working a little more than three quarters and Kafka finishing up. Vick also ran three times for 16 yards.

"He did well last week, which I figured he would," Reid said yesterday. "He'll get in and work with the second group this week. I have a pretty good idea of what he can do, and where he's at, but this will be good to get him in and continue working his rhythm and balance and all of those things in the regular offense."

Reid said Vick will play the first half tomorrow night, Kafka the second half.

"You get a chance to get into a rhythm, get your confidence going, get your blood flowing," Vick said, when asked about getting to settle in at the controls. "You go out there and you might have one or two bad plays, but the next three or four might be good plays. It's just the way football is."

Vick talked a lot earlier in camp about learning to be more of a pocket passer. With the o-line personnel he has been working with late in games (the same group he will line up behind tomorrow night), he has found himself reverting more to scrambling and working on the fly, as he so often did in Atlanta.

"This game here, I want to go out there and play to the best of my abilities, the best that I can," he said. "I'm confident in where I'm at right now, in how I feel physically . . . It's important to leave any game with a positive feeling. That's the thing that keeps your mojo going, keeps your confidence going, has you itching to get back out there."

At Kansas City, the Vick cameos in the first three quarters didn't seem to help with offensive rhythm; several times, Kolb would trot back onto the field for a third-and-long that was not of his making. Offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg was asked this week about that rhythm, and Vick's role.

"Well, you know what I think about rhythm," Mornhinweg said. "It's real. It's hard to explain, but it is real. You go through things like that, through the season and through games, so you can't make any excuses. You have to stay in rhythm, it's just that simple. The next guy comes in and plays and you keep with the rhythm."

Mornhinweg said he feels spotting Vick here and there will work because "it's all the mentality, really. If you have the mentality - and our offense has it, all of our players have it - where we don't care how we win the next game, we'll do whatever it takes to win the next game . . . we don't care who gets the credit, we don't care who scores. With that attitude, then you're in pretty good shape."

Last call

A lot could be at stake tomorrow in the career of J.J. Arrington, who entered the NFL 5 years ago as a second-round pick of the Cardinals, with much expected.

Arrington, acquired on July 30 from Denver, has been bothered by a foot/ankle problem almost since he arrived. He is coming off microfracture surgery that kept him out of the league in 2009, and hasn't gotten a lot of reps in practice or in games. This week of practice - in which the normal starters get the fewest reps, leading up to a game they won't play in at all - and this game are Arrington's last, best chance to make an impression.

"Show 'em my burst, blocking and stuff, show 'em that I'm picking up the playbook pretty well - of course it's not going to be great, because I haven't been here that long, but it's coming together," Arrington said yesterday.

Asked if he thought the Eagles had seen enough of what he can do so far to make a fair evaluation of him, Arrington said, "Honestly, probably not. Not right now. That's what this week is for."


Andy Reid said center Jamaal Jackson's repaired left knee "didn't swell, it's not sore, so he's feeling pretty good" the day after a strong practice test . . . Reid said DeSean Jackson's back is feeling better, but that the wideout was "a little swollen and sore" after having his wisdom teeth removed . . . Reid stressed that "there are spots, I'm telling you there are spots" still open on the roster, that could be affected by tomorrow's game . . . Cornerback Dimitri Patterson (groin) remains sidelined . . . The Eagles placed fifth-round rookie defensive end Ricky Sapp on injured reserve, and Sapp said via Twitter that he will have knee surgery. To take Sapp's place on the roster, at least until the Sept. 4 trim to 53, they picked up defensive end Pannel Egboh off waivers from Houston.

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