Eagles' Barkley no stranger to quarterback competitions

As a true freshman at Southern Cal, Matt Barkley beat two older quarterbacks during fall camp for the No. 1 spot. "It is a new regime," the Birds rookie said.
As a true freshman at Southern Cal, Matt Barkley beat two older quarterbacks during fall camp for the No. 1 spot. "It is a new regime," the Birds rookie said. (ALEJANDRO A. ALVAREZ / Staff)
Posted: June 26, 2013

When Matt Barkley was an incoming freshman at Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, Calif., he competed with two other quarterbacks during the preseason before earning the starting job. As a true freshman at Southern California, Barkley beat two older, touted quarterbacks during fall camp for the No. 1 spot.

Now as a rookie for the Eagles, Barkley is in a similar situation. Michael Vick and Nick Foles are the front-runners to win Chip Kelly's quarterback competition, but it's possible for the fourth-round pick to beat them out - to begin the season or at some point during the season.

Barkley said the comparison makes more sense between high school and college than it does with his current situation in the NFL, because in those previous cases, there were departed quarterbacks being replaced.

"Now, there's two quarterbacks who've been starters for this team; not just anywhere in the league, but for this team," Barkley said. "Then again, it is a new regime. It's a new coaching staff. . . . But I haven't really drawn comparisons."

Barkley gushed about the relationships he's developed with the Eagles' two incumbents. He said he's learned about how to approach game situations from Vick, who is sharing knowledge he's gained over a decade in the NFL. Foles has impressed Barkley with how quickly he transfers a concept from the meeting room to the field.

Barkley also made sure to include former Oregon quarterback Dennis Dixon, noting Dixon's understanding of Kelly's system and the instruction Dixon offers when the first- and second-team offenses are on the field.

"This is all new to all of us," Barkley said. "Those other guys kind of got a head start from being there a month earlier, but we're all pushing each other."

Though Barkley is a rookie, he's not inexperienced. Being a starting quarterback for eight consecutive years at a top prep and college program prepared him for what's expected. It's also instilled him with intangibles often sought in a quarterback, and quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor noted that Barkley was the "face of the franchise" in Los Angeles.

"I think I kind of knew, when I chose USC, just the pressures that the quarterback had and the responsibilities that the quarterback had with that program in Los Angeles, with that platform," Barkley said. "I didn't really think anything of it. Maybe I was oblivious. But it just seemed natural to take that role."

One of the hidden benefits of slipping to the fourth round has been the lack of a significant spotlight. Any quarterback in the NFL - and especially in Philadelphia - will receive attention. But Barkley does not carry the onus of being a franchise savior and is not an obvious Day 1 starter, which has allowed him to fade into the background for the first time in his football career.

"I think right now is the least amount of pressure, to tell you the truth, the least amount of attention," Barkley said. "I don't mind it either way; you just get used to it. But now, with how the whole draft turned it, it allows me to not worry about anything but just put my head down and work, be focused."

Barkley said he was pleased with his growth in the offense during his first month in Philadelphia. He said performance is important, but his objective was gaining a full understanding of the system and why plays are called.

Barkley is in the city for another week. After the team's rookie program is completed, Barkley will prepare for his July 6 wedding to longtime girlfriend Brittany Langdon. He then has a honeymoon planned before returning for camp on July 22.

And his first training camp with the Eagles will be similar to his first practices in high school and his first camp in college: He'll be trying to win a quarterback competition.

"I feel like I grew a lot, and I think that was the main goal," Barkley said. "And really, in that last minicamp, when all the vets were there, I got the big picture."


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

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