Eagles' Dixon: Don't forget about me

DAVID MAIALETTI /STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Dennis Dixon was Chip Kelly's first QB at Oregon.
DAVID MAIALETTI /STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Dennis Dixon was Chip Kelly's first QB at Oregon.
Posted: July 25, 2013

SOMEBODY ASKED Michael Vick yesterday about the recent prediction by Snoop Dog's new little buddy, DeSean Jackson, that Vick will be the last man standing in the Eagles' quarterback battle.

Vick was very diplomatic, pointing out that no matter who is named the starting quarterback, Jackson and the rest of the team's offensive players will play hard for him.

"They will support Nick [Foles] or me or G.J. [Kinne] or Matt Barkley or whoever is lining up behind center," Vick said.

Either Vick's pet name for Dennis Dixon is Whoever (not likely) or Dixon's name simply slipped Vick's mind when he was taking quarterback roll for the media (bingo).

The truth is, Dixon is pretty easy to forget. He's been in the NFL for five seasons, and has kept about as low a profile as a guy who has been around for 5 years can keep. He has appeared in just four games (three starts) in those 5 years and has a total of 59 career pass attempts.

Spent all of last season on the Baltimore Ravens' practice squad. While you won't find his name anywhere on the stat sheet, he actually played an important role in the Ravens' 34-31 win over the San Francisco 49ers in the Super Bowl.

Dixon played the scout-team role of the Niners' nimble quarterback, Colin Kaepernick, in practice. The Ravens' defense held Kaepernick to 16 completions in 28 attempts and limited him to 62 rushing yards on seven carries.

"That's the style of play I'm accustomed to [playing]," Dixon said. "I was the right guy at the right time. I tried to get Ray Lewis and the rest of the defense as prepared as possible for what they were going to see."

Dixon's style of play is why he's an Eagle now. He was Chip Kelly's first quarterback at Oregon in 2007 after Kelly left the University of New Hampshire to become the Ducks' offensive coordinator.

After getting benched the season before, Dixon flourished under Kelly, throwing 20 touchdown passes and just four interceptions, completing nearly 68 percent of his attempts and rushing for 583 yards and nine touchdowns before tearing an ACL with three games left in the '07 season.

"There were several options for me [after last season]," said Dixon. "I had to break it down and decide which one was best for me. I felt coming here would be the best situation for me."

His skill set and familiarity with Kelly's offense are why the Eagles signed him. But that hardly means he's guaranteed a roster job.

From the outside looking in, Dixon appears to be the fourth horse in a three-horse race for the starting job, behind Vick, Foles and fourth-round rookie Barkley.

But Dixon feels he has just as good a chance of winning the quarterback battle as anyone.

"I believe so," he said. "I'm not a person who does a lot of talking. I let my game talk for me. Whatever opportunity comes my way in practice and the preseason, I'm going to try to make the most of it. I'm going to play every play like it's my last."

As far as Kelly is concerned, this is an open competition. That means Vick and Foles and Barkley. That means Dixon and even Kinne.

"Everybody gets a chance and everybody has an opportunity to show us what their resume is," the head coach said. "And your resume is what you put on tape every day. If somebody continues to make plays, and someone doesn't make plays, that guy is going to move up, and the other one's going to move down. Our depth chart is written in sand right now."

There are any number of ways the Eagles' quarterback situation could shake out between now and the season opener against Washington in 47 days. Pick an order, any order.

If either Foles or Barkley were to win the starting job, the Eagles very well could trade or release Vick and make Dixon the No. 2 or No. 3 quarterback.

Kelly also could follow his buddy Bill Belichick's lead and keep just two quarterbacks on the 53-man roster (Foles and Barkley) and put Dixon on the practice squad. Yes, despite the fact that he is entering his sixth NFL season, Dixon still has practice-squad eligibility left.

Kelly has said that he views having a quarterback who can run the read option as strictly a bonus. But you've got to believe that he'd like to keep at least one mobile quarterback around. And if they get rid of Vick, the only remaining options would be Dixon or Kinne.

"We used it a lot [at Oregon]," Dixon said. "Coach Kelly will use your God-given talent. Whatever quarterback lines up behind center, I'm sure Chip Kelly will fit and mold his offense around that person."

While Dixon admits his history with Kelly probably has helped him get his arms around the offense a little quicker than the team's other quarterbacks, he's not sure that necessarily gives him an advantage at this point.

"I wouldn't say it's an advantage," he said. "Yes, me and Chip have a history. But a lot has changed [with the offense] in the last 5 years. The plays, how fast we go. I'm still trying to get accustomed to it, too.

"I guess maybe I have somewhat of an edge. And whenever my number is called, I want to be able to use it."

Dixon hasn't thrown a regular-season pass since 2010, when he made two starts for the Steelers after Ben Roethlisberger and Charlie Batch went down with injuries. Completed 22 of 32 passes in those two starts, but didn't have a rushing or passing touchdown.

Despite his lack of NFL game experience, he feels he has the right stuff to be a starter.

"I absolutely think I can," he said. "I've been blessed enough to have played with teams [Steelers, Ravens] that had tremendous defenses that gave tremendous looks in practice.

"All I want to do is display that [talent]. When the opportunity does come, I'm quite sure I'll rise to the occasion."

If nothing else, the Eagles might want to keep Dixon around as a good-luck charm. He has two Super Bowl rings. Got one as a rookie with the Steelers in 2008. Got another with the Ravens.

Keeps them in a safe-deposit box back home in California.

"I barely wear them," he said. "Only for special occasions."

Maybe he'll put one of them on if he shocks every one and wins the starting job.

Stranger things have happened.

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On Twitter: @Pdomo

Blog: eagletarian.com

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