Eagles depth chart still a mystery, even to Kelly

Count those snaps: Eagles quarterbacks Matt Barkley (left) and Nick Foles at Tuesday's practice.
Count those snaps: Eagles quarterbacks Matt Barkley (left) and Nick Foles at Tuesday's practice. (CLEM MURRAY / Staff)
Posted: June 06, 2013

Eagles coach Chip Kelly bristled when queried about the depth chart, and quarterback Nick Foles offered a similar reaction when questioned about practice repetitions with the first or second team.

It's clear during this week's mandatory minicamp, as it has been throughout the offseason, that the starting lineup remains a mystery even to Kelly at this point.

One reason coaches often name starting quarterbacks is to eliminate speculation and ambiguity. Yet during Tuesday's practice, Michael Vick took the first snaps with the first-team offense. Foles also took substantial snaps with the first-team offense. And when they practice on Wednesday, it might be Foles beginning with the top unit, as he did last week.

"You don't think about it at all," Foles said. "There's nothing behind it. . . . You go out there when it's your time."

The reason for wonder is that one will eventually win the job. Yet there still does not appear to be a time line for "eventually." Vick and Foles, who remain the top competitors for the starting job, have already grown weary of questions about emerging as the top quarterback.

"I'm trying to just stay focused and prove that I can move the ball with this offense during practice," Vick said. "As of right now, I can't think of what has to happen or what needs to happen. I just have to go out there and work for it."

Vick continued to discuss how "innovative" the offense is and how his combination of running and passing can be utilized in the system. His optimism must be understood with the asterisk that Vick has been confident about any new system he's encountered and has still developed recurring problems such as turnovers and injuries. But Kelly's offense could maximize Vick in a way the 32-year-old wishes could have happened when he was 22.

"Can you imagine?" Vick said. "It would be awesome."

Yet some of that might be selective memory. Vick previously said that Kelly taught him how to actually hold a football, which was a curious claim coming from a 10-year veteran. Kelly also turned away that compliment.

"I didn't teach Mike to carry the football. He was just swinging it loose one day, and I told him to keep it tight," Kelly said. "He has been playing football a long time and has played for a lot of really good coaches. Dan Reeves may have said something to him in Atlanta. It was just kind of reiterating fundamentals, and it's like that with everybody. If I see someone carry the ball loose, I am going to make sure they carry it tight."

Vick carried the ball appropriately during practice on Tuesday, when his plays included scrambles that showed off the speed he's been boasting about this spring. He continues to throw the ball with rare velocity, although arm strength has never been the issue with Vick.

The key will be for the quarterbacks to pick up the offense. Foles, who has had days when he takes more first-team snaps than Vick, said his consistency executing plays has been the biggest difference between this week and when OTAs started last month.

"You get more and more comfortable," Foles said. "You're seeing the defense add some looks. You can run a play several times, but it's different because of what the defense is doing."

Kelly has not revealed how well or poorly either QB might be playing. Nor has he seemed to alter the depth chart. In fact, Kelly asked for a moratorium on depth-chart questions. Kelly gave the example of Dennis Dixon playing at QB with LeSean McCoy at running back at one play.

"Does that mean Dennis is the No. 1?" Kelly said. "No, just rotating in."


Contact Zach Berman at zberman@phillynews.com. Follow on Twitter @ZBerm.

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