Eagles quietly usher in a new era at quarterback

The Eagles' Nick Foles, with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg (left), has replaced Michael Vick as starter for the next four games. DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
The Eagles' Nick Foles, with offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg (left), has replaced Michael Vick as starter for the next four games. DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Posted: December 06, 2012

The last time the Eagles demoted one quarterback and promoted another, the locker room at the NovaCare Complex was as crowded with reporters as it has ever been.

There was so little space at Michael Vick's locker and Kevin Kolb's adjoining stall that Kolb had to move to another area to answer questions.

Two years later, Vick's benching and Nick Foles' ascension has generated much less interest. The hopelessness of the season and the fact that many already believed a switch was a foregone conclusion were reasons for the reduced fanfare on Wednesday.

But the changing of the guard was no less important, even if the expected end of Vick's tenure with the Eagles failed to register much with his teammates. In with the new and out with the old. So goes the NFL.

"I will always be appreciative of what Mike Vick has done for me and what he's done in this locker room," wide receiver Jason Avant said. "He's inspired so many people in this locker room with who he is as a person and a player. But we understand this is a situation that Coach [Andy] Reid feels it's best to have Nick in there."

Reid announced Monday that Foles, who has filled in for Vick in the last three games, will be his starting quarterback for the remainder of the season. Vick, who suffered a concussion on Nov. 11, has still not been cleared to return and has not spoken to reporters.

Vick did not reach baseline on his latest ImPACT test, Reid said. Vick took another one Wednesday morning, but Reid said the team did not yet have results.

"He's not ready to play," Reid said. "The No. 1 thing is his health . . . so I'm not going to put him in any jeopardy out there."

LeSean McCoy, who suffered a concussion on Nov. 18, hasn't passed his ImPACT test yet, either. Reid said that the running back was still experiencing symptoms. The Eagles coach was asked whether McCoy will play this season when he's cleared.

"There's a chance," Reid said. "We'll cross that bridge as we get closer to him being healthy."

Bryce Brown will start his third game in place of McCoy when the Eagles travel to face the Buccaneers on Sunday. The rookie running back became the first player since 1970 to rush for more than 150 yards in each of his first two starts.

As impressive as Brown has looked, he fumbled three times in two games. He said Wednesday that the scout team was more aggressive in trying to strip him of the football. He was walking around the locker room squeezing a ball of clay because he said coach Duce Staley said he had weak hands.

While McCoy is likely to be back next season, Vick is not. Barring injury, Foles will have had seven games to audition for the starting job next season.

"I've always looked at it as you take care of what you do today the best you can. The rest will take care of itself," Foles said. "If you start talking about the future . . . you might not do everything you can."

Asked what his initial reaction was upon hearing that he was named the starter, Foles said: "Just back to work."

After two underwhelming starts against the Redskins and Panthers, the rookie looked sharper against the Cowboys on Sunday night. He completed 22 of 34 passes for 251 yards and a touchdown. He did not have a turnover.

"He's very savvy. He's very calm," Avant said. "He's not as fleet afoot as Mike, but he's very calm under pressure and knows he can get the ball out even though he can't run around."

Despite his relative inexperience, several veterans on offense said that Foles carries himself with confidence, especially in the huddle.

"He's got poise in there," tight end Brent Celek said. "He's just a natural quarterback. Being a quarterback you have to be one of the leaders on the team, and he's got that."

The same was said of Vick, of course. Because of his nonguaranteed salary next season ($16 million), his age (33), and his latest injury, the Eagles are unlikely to bring him back.

There are sure to be some suitors in the offseason, but Vick's slow return from a concussion could scare some teams away.

"He's in a tough spot," guard Evan Mathis said. "The future's uncertain for him . . . and I know he wants to be out there."


Contact Jeff McLane at jmclane@phillynews.com, or follow on Twitter @Jeff_McLane.

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