Eagles first team does it in 4 minutes or less

Michael Vick makes pass during his brief showing in first quarter.
Michael Vick makes pass during his brief showing in first quarter. (YONG KIM / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER)
Posted: August 12, 2011

DON'T WORRY because no one is getting carried away with the Eagles' first offensive series of their first preseason game.

We know there is a long way to go and this was just the first line of the introduction to the story that will be written over the 2011 season.

Still, if there was one single thing that Eagles fans wanted to see out of last night's scrum with the Baltimore Ravens, this had to be it.

One drive featuring eight plays gained 80 yards and resulted in a touchdown, the sum total of the work of the first-team offense.

Quarterback Michael Vick and company were on the field for a grand total of 3 minutes and 55 seconds.

But at this stage, they showed all they needed to show.

Vick completed four of six passes for 74 yards, with each completion going to a different receiver.

Displaying the big-play ability that forced the Eagles to alter their "quarterback of the future" plans last season, Vick had two completions of at least 20 yards.

"It felt good to be back out on the gridiron," Vick said. "We didn't have an entire offseason to jell so we have to get out there and play and get in sync with each other."

Again, this is not about getting carried away with anything, but all things being equal, it's better for the Eagles to play well and play efficient in these preseason games.

"There's plenty of things to work on," Eagles coach Andy Reid said. "This was the first preseason game, a little rusty, but that's what the preseason is for.

"I don't think it was any different than your normal first game. We've got to build and expand on this."

Consider that the Eagles had their first real practice of training camp 2 weeks ago today.

Now factor in that because of the lockout and the new practice off-day rules, the Eagles have had only four practices as a complete squad.

Look at all those factors, then add in injuries, holdouts and mysterious illnesses, and it's hard to look at that first drive as anything but impressive.

With rookie right guard Danny Watkins and free-agent right tackle Ryan Harris protecting his blind side, Vick sat comfortably in the pocket, rarely experiencing any discomfort from defensive pressure.

The one time Vick did feel a little heat, he rolled to his left and arched a long pass that receiver Riley Cooper - subbing for the ill Jeremy Maclin - secured for a 42-yard catch, after out-leaping Ravens' Pro Bowl safety Ed Reed.

Cooper's catch was more impressive considering that Reed grabbed his right arm while he was at his apex, knocking him off balance. Cooper retained possession with one arm, despite his legs buckling when he landed awkwardly and then falling hard on his back.

The catch led to a 3-yard touchdown pass from Vick to tight end Brent Celek.

That's 1-for-1 in the red zone, with a touchdown, not a settle for a field goal.

"The main thing for us is to do things consistently, especially with scoring," Celek said. "We were sporadic with that last year.

"It felt good to be back out there. It's been a while since we've been on the field. As an offense, we felt pretty good. We've got a ways to go still, but this was a good start."

The play of the starting receivers on that drive was significant because Maclin is in St. Louis undergoing more medical tests to find out what is wrong with him, and the other regular starting receiver, DeSean Jackson, didn't play because he just got into camp after ending his holdout.

That certainly didn't alter the Eagles' offense because on their first play from scrimmage Vick connected with Jason Avant on a 20-yard pass play.

Vick then completed a 9-yard pass to Chad Hall.

The Eagles even got a crucial first down via the run when fullback Owen Schmitt went up the middle for 2 yards on a third-and-1 from their 49.

The next play was the bomb to Cooper.

In an ideal world, the Eagles will have both Jackson and Maclin ready to go by the season opener on Sept. 11 at the St. Louis Rams.

But considering Avant and Cooper have run as the starting receivers for every practice, seeing them make plays in their first live game action has to ease the concern level.

"I wanted to execute, have ball security and get the ball into the end zone," Vick said after the game. "We were able to accomplish that.

"The offensive line did a great job of protection on that drive. I was able to take advantage of what the defense gave us."

It was just 3:55, but you have to like what you saw from the Eagles' offense.

And that's not getting carried away with things.

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