Vick looks sharp as Eagles fine-tune offense

Eagles quarterbacks (from left) Matt Barkley, Michael Vick, and Nick Foles are working on plays that were installed when training camp started .       DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Eagles quarterbacks (from left) Matt Barkley, Michael Vick, and Nick Foles are working on plays that were installed when training camp started .       DAVID MAIALETTI / Staff Photographer
Posted: August 02, 2013

The final play at Eagles practice Wednesday was a 35-yard touchdown pass from Michael Vick to DeSean Jackson, a deep throw in which Vick hit Jackson in stride in the back of the end zone. It concluded a day in which Vick took most of the first-team snaps and had perhaps his finest day of training camp.

One practice will not determine the quarterback competition, and no player can be categorized as ahead or behind. There have been days when Nick Foles has looked better. Coach Chip Kelly has been adamant that he must see the quarterbacks in preseason games, facing a live pass rush.

But what's indisputable is that practice is beginning to intensify. Most of the offense is installed, Kelly said. Players are wearing pads, so the windows to pass through get tighter and the coverage is more physical.

"When the pads come on, it's almost like game simulation," Vick said. "I feel like guys around me have potential to hit, and it's more like live action. I try to treat it like a game, try to approach it like a game, like there's a lot on the line. I approach practice with a different mind-set."

Vick completed a deep touchdown pass to Jackson earlier in the practice, and he completed most of his passes - a total that would have been higher if not for a few drops. He also scrambled more than usual, some of which appeared designed.

"All upfield," Vick said of his running. "The ability to feel pass-rush, feel guys moving, and make plays when necessary."

Kelly said both Vick and Foles have a better understanding of what the team is doing, and the offense is beginning to slow down in their minds. The coach explained that when camp begins, much of the time is spent installing plays. Once those plays are installed, the team goes back to the beginning to try to refine things. So Wednesday's practice was a repeat of the first day.

"The other thing you start to see is what they feel comfortable with," Kelly said. ". . . You start to get a feel as they start to express themselves. A lot of conversations going on now. If we're throwing drop-back, what's your choices in drop-back? What do you like?"

Foles said the part of his game that has advanced the most in the last week is knowing where to throw the ball in different situations. That has come with an understanding of the offense, and he said sometimes the right throws result in an incompletion.

He made what appeared to be poor throws on Wednesday, including an interception by Colt Anderson in which the safety jumped the route. But Foles also fit the ball through a tight spot to hit Jason Avant in the end zone in full-team drills and showed advanced footwork - especially compared with last season.

"It was a big topic last year and a big topic my senior year [at Arizona], and I've been fortunate enough to have great coaches around me," Foles said of his footwork. "When you continue to work on it, it does become second nature, but it's a conscious thought every single day when I'm warming up."

Even though Kelly said Matt Barkley has "been outstanding so far," one wouldn't know it from his passing results. There are too many incompletions, although Barkley is playing with the third-team offense.

His wide receivers are not the same players Vick is throwing to. That's why Barkley said he pays little attention to the result of the play and cares more about the execution.

"I'm not worried about numbers; I'm worried about accuracy, making sure the ball is in the right place," Barkley said. "And even the final product is going to be different, because [the receivers] are not going to end up where DeSean [Jackson] would be on a play like that."

The Eagles will begin their preseason on Aug. 9. That will be the next major milestone in the quarterback competition. Yet the competition is already at a different point from a week ago. The pads are on, the offense is installed, and separation among the quarterbacks should come soon - if it hasn't started already.

"We're not looking for separation, we're looking for improvement," Vick said. "If we can go out and make strides each and every day and continue to get a grasp of this offense, then you'll see guys separate themselves."

Click here for complete coverage of the Eagles training camp.


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

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