Those questions are tougher to answer. Left guard Evan Mathis took a swing at the second one.
"It's understandable that fans are concerned, based on the limited body of work they've seen from us this year as a total offense," Mathis said. "There's no need for alarm because we've been getting these practice reps. We know what we can do. We're going to protect Michael. I think these first two preseason games were kind of a freak thing. If Mike had needed to finish this past game, he probably could have, but it's preseason, there's no need to risk anything like that."
Neither Vick nor his ribs were available for comment. But Reid was asked about his concern level over not ever getting to see the consistency and precision he and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg were hoping to establish against the Patriots, before the offense plays a game that counts.
"The thing you have to bank on is the experience. That's what you have to look at," Reid said. He added that if Friday's preseason visit to Cleveland were a real game, Vick might play.
Center Jason Kelce expanded on the "experience" theme.
"We have plenty of [comfort] with Mike; we played a whole season with him last year, for the most part, everybody on offense is the same except for the left tackle . . . We've had a full offseason with him . . . we're ready to go with Mike," Kelce said. "The fans and everybody put a lot of emphasis on preseason games, and they are important, but he was there every single day of training camp, every single day of practice, every single day of OTAs, every single day of minicamp as the No. 1 quarterback, and that's really where you're building the timing, the precision and everything like that . . . There's been plenty of time put in with Mike."
Vick, who missed time with rib-area injuries in 2010 and 2011, was wearing protection when Jermaine Cunningham's helmet struck his left side, Reid reiterated. Reid didn't seem to think the fact that Vick came away injured was ominous.
"They don't look like much, but they're pretty sturdy," said Reid, referring to the protective wear. "He took a good hit, that's what happened. He has a flak jacket on, and they're hard to see, but they're the most protective thing out there right now . . . Listen, that was a pretty good shot he took. It was in a soft spot, and a good shot he took."
One issue with the Cunningham hit was that Vick had the ball a long time, spinning away from inside pressure after Mathis incorrectly heard the blocking call and lost a defender. Vick then loaded up and launched a bomb to DeSean Jackson, with Cunningham coming hard after being blocked initially by Todd Herremans.
"He was trying to make somebody miss, and he wheeled backwards about 15 yards. He had an available receiver down the field, and he was trying to make a play. To tell him that he can't make that throw, you're not going to tell him that," Reid said. "You just want everyone to do their job so that that doesn't happen back there. It was when he spun around that he got caught with that."
Reid seems to think whatever can be done to protect Vick has been done.
"He's got to play," Reid said, when asked how Vick can get through the 16-game season healthy. "There is a fine line here because he has to continue to play the game. It's a violent sport where you're going to get injuries. If you're out there worried about that part of it, you're not going to perform to the best of your ability.
"Then, you have to catch a break here or there. You have to catch a break in a positive way where you're not absorbing the big hits."
Kelce said Vick is frustrated, obviously, and "everybody on the offense is frustrated that he's only played six snaps each game."
Kelce said that as far as the offense not running smoothly, "preseason is always a little shaky; I think that's why they have a preseason. But having said that, we still have corrections we've got to make on offense."
Rookie tackle to start
Not only will Nick Foles get to start and play against first-teamers for the first time Friday night at Cleveland, another rookie, fifth-rounder Dennis Kelly, will be his right tackle. Todd Herremans had a death in the family and will miss the game to attend a funeral.
"It's exciting," said Kelly, who played at Purdue. "Back in camp when Todd got banged up a little bit, they gave me the opportunity to work with the 'ones.' It gives me a little more confidence in that they trust me a little bit. Very excited."
Kelly played well in the second half of the New England game. He has seen training-camp reps at guard and tackle.
Defensive tackle Derek Landri was asked if it was odd to see Cullen Jenkins and Andy Reid so fired up at each other on the sideline of a preseason game. "A game's a game. As soon as they sing that song, as soon as that song's done, it's a game," Landri said. "I don't care if it doesn't count or it does . . . It's still a game, you're still playing for your livelihood. We care about it" . . . Still sidelined for the Eagles are linebacker Casey Matthews (ankle), defensive end Jason Babin (calf), quarterback Mike Kafka (hand), wide receiver Riley Cooper (collarbone) and safety Tom Nelson (ankle).
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