Eagles' Vick will start against Lions

Michael Vick takes a practice snap as Eagles assistant coach Doug Pederson watches. Vick will start at Detroit on Sunday.
Michael Vick takes a practice snap as Eagles assistant coach Doug Pederson watches. Vick will start at Detroit on Sunday.
Posted: September 16, 2010

Michael Vick reintroduced himself to the huddle.

The Eagles quarterback walked up to the clustered first-team offense at the start of Wednesday's practice, gave each player a fist bump and then went to work.

It's been nearly four years since Vick has prepared for a regular-season game as the starting quarterback and, barring an improbable return by Kevin Kolb, that's exactly what the 30-year-old will be when the Eagles face the Detroit Lions on Sunday.

At the very earliest, Kolb cannot return to practice until Friday, Eagles coach Andy Reid said. Kolb failed to pass another concussion test Wednesday and hasn't even been cleared to return to team meetings, per NFL restrictions.

So, excluding a Lazarus-like comeback from Kolb, Vick will start in the Eagles' second game. He's been in that position before - 68 times, as a member of the Atlanta Falcons, to be exact. Taking every snap at Wednesday's practice, he said, was like riding a bike.

"It felt the same," Vick said. "Football is football. It's only as hard as you make it. Coaches give you the fool-proof game plan, and it's up to you to execute it."

The game plan has been trimmed for Vick, according to wide receiver DeSean Jackson.

"Just kind of keeping it simple and just running plays that are not to over-complex for him," Jackson said. "He's a great quarterback, so he can adjust to anything on the run. But the biggest thing is for him to be in the huddle with the first group and all the receivers that he doesn't really get that many reps with."

Vick, of course, spent the last 13 months as a backup, a role he previously never had at any level of organized football. He first sat behind Donovan McNabb and Kolb last season, inserted only as a change-of-pace Wildcat. Then he was bumped up to the second team after McNabb was dealt in April.

And while he played mostly the dutiful soldier, it was not a role with which he was completely comfortable. He went on several sports-talk radio shows in the off-season in an attempt to lobby for a trade.

But the Eagles brought him back to the tune of $5.25 million. And when Kolb went down late in the first half on Sunday, Vick found himself back at the head of the huddle, a spot he lost after he was convicted and served prison time for dogfighting crimes.

"I'm almost used to being in this position," Vick said of being the leader. "It feels like the old days when . . . if I ever had a great week of preparation . . . I know that I have to rally the guys and put them in a position where we feel like we can win."

Vick almost rallied the Eagles from a 17-point deficit against the Packers. As the starter in Atlanta, Vick won 40 of 71 games, including two playoff victories. He won more than he lost, but there was always the charge that he could never win a title because he was inaccurate and undisciplined.

Vick took off and ran seven times when he was the quarterback Sunday, but Reid said most of those carries were justified.

"You saw a couple where he just slow-played it outside of the pocket, made sure he allowed the receivers to get to their position, and then if he had to take off and go, then he ran," Reid said.

It was a small sample, but Vick was certainly more accurate Sunday (16 for 24 for 66.7 pct.) than he was in Atlanta (53.8).

"I still have the tendency sometimes [to] stand too tall in the pocket and not bend my knees when I throw," Vick said.

But it's his ability to make plays with his feet that makes him so dangerous and a wild card for any team to defense. Eagles guard Todd Herremans recalled when he got beat inside Sunday on a three-step drop and how most quarterbacks would have been sacked. Vick, however, turned a sure loss into a dazzling 16-yard gain.

"Who knows another quarterback that could do that?" Herremans said.

Detroit coach Jim Schwartz said he was preparing for Vick to be the starter for Sunday. Of course, the million dollar question around here is who will start following the Lions game, especially if Vick wins and has a productive outing. Reid said that Vick is still a starting quarterback in the NFL but not for the Eagles as Kolb is his anointed No. 1.

Vick, though, is back - at least for one more day.

"I heard Kevin might come back Friday, but we don't know," Jackson said. "Wednesday and Thursday practices are huge going into a game."

Contact staff writer Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745 or jmclane@phillynews.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/Jeff_McLane.

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