Ashley Fox: Vick's injury throws Eagles for a loop

Posted: October 03, 2010

In the Eagles' locker room after the game on Sunday, after his dynamic return as a starting quarterback in the National Football League had been halted, Michael Vick could hardly get his right arm into his dress shirt. He struggled to lift his arm, and grimaced as he ever-so-slowly pushed it through.

From the look of it, even buttoning up the shirt, Vick appeared to be in considerable pain, and that could be a big, big problem for the Eagles, who could not beat the Washington Redskins with Vick on the sideline for the better part of three quarters. For a team that looked to have endless potential, October could be a bumpy month.

There were two unsubstantiated reports last night, one by Comcast SportsNet and one by NBC, that Vick has three broken ribs and will miss significant time. All Andy Reid would say after the game was that Vick has a "sore chest" and will have an MRI exam on Monday. Vick declined to speak with reporters after the game.

But usually if a player has X-rays during a game and the X-rays are negative, Reid will say so. He made no such pronouncement after Sunday's game. Draw your own conclusions from that.

As soon as Vick went down, the air went out of Lincoln Financial Field. With Vick under center, the place was electric because anything could happen. A broken play could become a highlight. That was the case on the play in which Vick got hurt.

With Kevin Kolb back on the field for the first time since getting a concussion in Week 1 against Green Bay, Reid went super conservative, relying on a bunch of running plays to LeSean McCoy and short passes that were meant to methodically eat up yards, 5 or 6 at a time. Kolb's longest pass of the day was for 18 yards, and DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin, the team's two undeniably most dangerous receivers, combined for four catches for 34 yards and no touchdowns.

Vick certainly wasn't on a fire to start the game. It looked as if it was he, not Donovan McNabb, who was perhaps overhyped for the game. Vick bounced incessantly during pregame introductions, and darted over to McNabb while the Eagles defense was being introduced, slapping hands and exchanging a few words with the man who taught him the intricacies of being a professional quarterback in the National Football League.

But the Eagles' first two series went nowhere. Facing a 14-0 deficit, Vick looked as if he was starting to ignite the offense. McCoy took a short pass 31 yards for a big gain. Vick ran a couple of times when his receivers were covered. On first and 10 from the Redskins' 28-yard line, Vick threw a perfectly placed ball to Brent Celek and away from safety Kareem Moore at the goal line that Celek couldn't haul in.

Two plays later, Vick dropped back to pass, then stepped up and took off like only he can. He escaped no fewer than six Redskins defenders, but as he dove to the goal line, Moore and cornerback DeAngelo Hall hit him from opposite sides. Vick didn't get up for several moments, then made it to about the 20-yard line before he sat down again.

Once on the sideline, Vick took in oxygen from a mask, and then walked to the locker room. His day was done, and so, too, were the Eagles' chances. Even though the Eagles were driving with less than a minute to go in the game with a chance to win, the stadium was half-empty. There were some believers still in their seats, but they weren't in the majority.

In the locker room afterward, everyone said the right things about how they can succeed with Kolb as their starter, but at this point, Vick is the better of the two. With his steady play and his aggressive attitude, Vick has convinced the other Eagles that he's their best shot. He gets in the huddle and says, "I'm going to get this done. Who's with me?" That kind of leadership fires guys up, and they play for Vick, not just with him.

Vick hasn't been playing recklessly, but he's aware that with his speed and his arm, opposing defenses are having trouble with him. So when he sees a lane open, off he goes. It's exactly what happened on the play on which he got hurt.

"It was tough, man, especially because I kept telling him he don't need to take hits like he's taking, especially being a quarterback and how much he means to our offense so far in these early weeks," Jackson said. "It's just like, 'Man, you can't take hits like that.' So it's kind of disappointing to see him taking hits like that, but hopefully he'll learn."

And hopefully for the Eagles, Vick will be back sooner rather than later. They need him. Reid knows it. Vick knows it. The team knows it. And the fans who bailed early on Sunday know it.


Contact staff writer Ashley Fox at 215-854-5064 or afox@phillynews.com.

Follow her on Twitter at twitter.com/AshleyMFox.

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