Eagles rookie quarterback Foles doing his due diligence

Posted: October 18, 2012

NICK FOLES normally strides into the Eagles' NovaCare practice facility sometime around 7 o'clock each morning. Once settled, his normal routine involves somewhere around 5 or 6 hours of studying, which surrounds a morning walk-through and an afternoon practice.

Through his first 6 weeks as an NFL quarterback, Foles has relied on veterans Michael Vick and Trent Edwards and used his time to tackle the intricacies of Andy Reid's complicated offense.

"I've studied so much since I got here that sometimes I feel like I'm back in school," Foles said last week as the Eagles prepared for the Lions. "My head is buried in football, studying and digesting schemes, pretty much from when I wake up until I go to bed."

The interest in Foles' progress and preparation was piqued this week when Reid offered a lukewarm vote of confidence for Vick's starting role just hours after canning defense coordinator Juan Castillo as a result of the Eagles' 3-3 start.

"As I sit here today, he's the starting quarterback," Reid said of Vick on Tuesday, before confirming that he is reviewing all aspects of the Eagles' operations.

Progress and preparation should be the least of the Eagles' concerns, according to Frank Scelfo, who was Foles' quarterbacks coach at the University of Arizona.

"Without a doubt, Nick knows that he is playing a different game in the NFL than college," said Scelfo, who has communicated with Foles often since the start of the season. "He is an extremely high-end competitor. He can look at film all day long.

"I can remember at Arizona, after playing on a Saturday, Nick would want to watch the film that night immediately after playing. A lot of times, he would watch the game before I did."

Foles and Scelfo became close during their time in Arizona, where Foles set school records in yards (10,011), touchdowns (67), attempts (1,369) and completions (933) in just three seasons.

More than his own guidance and words of encouragement from afar, Scelfo said he has noticed the impact that Vick and Edwards have had on Foles' career. Vick and Edwards have a combined 131 starts on their resume; Foles has never faced a first-team NFL defense, let alone taken a regular-season snap.

"Vick has helped him a great deal, you can tell that he has taken Nick under his wing," Scelfo said. "He's loving what he is doing. He is around people that he feels comfortable with, and most importantly, he can see himself getting better. There is a genuine learning curve that comes with this system, especially coming from a spread offense.

"He sees Vick, he can really identify with Vick, and Vick will give him pointers and tips and tricks."

Whether it is going for a run for conditioning or taking extra throwing reps while the rest of his teammates are already back in the locker room, Foles said Edwards has been a "big blessing" to have around. Many were surprised when Reid decided to keep Edwards over former fourth-round pick Mike Kafka, but Edwards has provided a calming influence.

"I really couldn't have landed in a better situation," Foles explained. "Both of these guys have been extremely helpful for me. Any time that I have a question, Mike or Trent has an answer and an explanation. They've helped me grow in a big way."

Scelfo, who said he is taking a "redshirt" year after not being retained by new Wildcats coach Rich Rodriguez, has previously mentored NFL quarterbacks such as J.P. Losman, Shaun King and Patrick Ramsey. He said Foles has an awareness at the line of scrimmage that few possess.

"A lot of quarterbacks know what goes on and they can recognize defenses and assignments," Scelfo said. "Nick's thought process and ability to see everything and have an idea of exactly how it is going to play out are what set him apart."

Scelfo is a realist, fully recognizing that preseason success against second-team defenses does not translate to regular-season victories. Still, watching the "undervalued" Foles string together a league-best 110.1 passer rating and 63.4 completion percentage with six touchdowns this summer was validation of what he witnessed at Arizona on a daily basis.

"I don't know when, but one day Nick is going to start in the NFL. That is a guarantee," Scelfo said. "He's 6 weeks in and he isn't uncomfortable at all with what he's doing. He feels like Andy, Marty [Mornhinweg] and [quarterbacks coach] Doug Pederson all believe in him. That is huge. He has all of the makings to be a star one day."

Given how quickly the Eagles' season has devolved after two straight mind-numbing losses, that time to shine may not come in the all-too-distant future.

Contact Frank Seravalli at seravaf@phillynews.com

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