Eagles quarterbacks check in for training camp

Eagles QB Nick Foles said he has gained experience.
Eagles QB Nick Foles said he has gained experience. (AP)
Posted: July 24, 2013

The five quarterbacks on the Eagles roster checked into the NovaCare Complex on Monday afternoon, took physicals and met with coaches. They'll practice Tuesday afternoon, when months of debate about the quarterback competition will actually begin to be determined.

What's been clear since the spring - and what was reinforced on Monday - was that claims of an open competition are as valid as they've been in Philadelphia in more than a decade.

Michael Vick and Nick Foles split first-team snaps during the spring. Rookie Matt Barkley is also competing for the starting job. Foles said there is no leader at this point, but he expressed his confidence that he can be the starter.

"I'm not here to be the backup. I'm here to be the guy," Foles said. "I don't think we play this game to sit on the bench. We play to play. And I'm here to play."

Vick said at the end of the minicamps that he wanted a starter named by training camp. Vick has experience and attributes such as a strong arm and rare mobility working in his favor. Foles offers youth and size, and he looked impressive in the spring. It's expected that the two will continue to split snaps when practice begins.

"I feel like we're still competing, and there is no lead. There's never a lead," Foles said. "That was the spring, that was an opportunity for the team to get better. I had a solid spring. There was a lot of stuff I needed to correct in the spring. I looked at it like a work in progress."

Foles noted the change between this season and one year ago, when he was a rookie third-string quarterback vying for the backup job. He went only 1-5 as a starter, but he gained valuable experience and the team declined to deal him this offseason because of optimism about Foles' future.

Vick remains popular within the locker room, especially among players who have won with him before. DeSean Jackson offered his support of Vick last week when he told ESPN that he believes Vick will win the job. Foles does not believe that he's being underestimated amid Vick support, and also said he has no issue with Jackson's stance.

"It doesn't bother me," Foles said. "I love DeSean. I don't worry about it. There's nothing to worry about."

Foles then said he believes the team will support whomever Chip Kelly anoints as starter. Vick, a former No. 1 pick who has reached four Pro Bowls and twice signed $100 million contracts, is not used to entering training camp with his status in flux.

The 33-year-old did not speak to reporters on Monday. His public comments will come after Tuesday's practice. But general manager Howie Roseman said Vick has accepted the competition.

"Every conversation I've had, and anyone in this building had with Michael about competition, he's all for it," Roseman said. "He wants the best players to play and he's not shying away from competition in any aspect. He knew that when we signed him."

The situation could become complicated if Vick does not earn the job. When he restructured his deal in February, Vick received a $3.5 million bonus. He will earn another $3.5 if he makes the 53-man roster. He can earn another $3 million in incentives.

If Vick does not win the job and the Eagles are satisfied with the other quarterbacks on the roster, they could release him before the season without any further financial obligation. When Roseman was asked whether Vick could stay on the roster as a backup, he said the team has not thought in those terms.

"But when we signed Michael it was with every intention that he was going to be on this team," Roseman said. "He's a very talented guy, and he's really eager to show what he's capable of."

Center Jason Kelce said the players are among those eager to see who emerges as the starter. Kelce also hoped there's no timetable on the decision. He said the team would get enough work during the preseason with both Vick and Foles that chemistry would not be affected if the competition drags deep into the preseason.

"I don't want a decision to be made because they feel they have to make a decision," Kelce said. "I want it to be clear who's playing better, who's done a better job in the preseason, who gives our team a better chance to win. Once that's been shown who that is, go ahead and name a starter."

Click here for complete coverage of Eagles training camp.

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

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