Running man: Vick plans to be a dual threat

Michael Vick got a first down on this run vs. Carolina last week before being stopped by Jason Williams. RON CORTES / Staff
Michael Vick got a first down on this run vs. Carolina last week before being stopped by Jason Williams. RON CORTES / Staff
Posted: August 24, 2013

Michael Vick is ready to play the way that made him famous - and he's not worried about injuries that could come as a result. When asked how he'll withstand teams that decide to hit him like he's a running back when he's running the football, Vick said the team has a plan.

"That's 220 pounds you're staring at right here, soaking wet," Vick joked.

Vick was in a jovial mood on Thursday, two days after coach Chip Kelly named him the Eagles' starting quarterback. He'll play around two quarters in Saturday's preseason game and then start preparing for the season opener against the Washington Redskins on Sept. 9, when his opponent will be Robert Griffin III, another dual-threat quarterback whose offense includes a read-option element.

Vick watched the proliferation of such offenses last season with admiration and envy. He saw Griffin, Colin Kaepernick, and Russell Wilson in the postseason and wondered what it would be like to play in such a system. He stayed in Philadelphia to have the opportunity to play for Kelly, whose offense can feature Vick's mobility.

"I'm going to have the opportunity to do what I want to do in this offense and run the football," Vick said. "And yes, I will be a threat."

Vick spent the offseason preparing for more running. His carries per game fluctuated from 8.3 in 2010 to 5.8 in 2011 to 6.2 in 2012. He's noticeably bigger - he said last month he added four pounds of muscle to withstand more hits. DeSean Jackson said on Tuesday that among the differences in Vick this season is Vick's eating salads in the cafeteria.

Vick also trained his legs in preparation to run. He pointed to his spring race against LeSean McCoy, when he supposedly beat the Eagles' Pro Bowl running back in a 40-yard dash. Vick also said he does 1,000 daily push-ups and sit-ups, which is likely hyperbole. But there's no question he reworked his body.

Kelly said the strength and conditioning coaches told him that Vick was "No. 1" in terms of attitude, work ethic, and helping other players in the weight room and was at the facility throughout the offseason.

"I never felt I was out of shape," Vick said. "Looking back now and the way I feel as of today, I feel I was underweight and could have been a lot stronger."

Whether that leads to his staying healthy remains to be seen. It's critical for Vick, who has played 16 games just once in his career. He's missed eight starts during the last two seasons because of injury.

"Some were random, some were positions I put myself in," Vick said. "And just sometimes being in the wrong place in the wrong time."

The injuries have ranged from a concussion to rib injuries to a hand injury. But Vick has often disputed the "injury-prone" label, and he does not think he's as injured as his reputation suggests.

"You guys act like I get hurt once a week," Vick said to reporters. "You all did that to me. Made me change the way I played the game."

The only season Vick started all 16 games was 2006, when he had a career-high 123 carries for 1,039 yards. He said he "played with a different mind-set," and that season is evidence that more running does not necessarily mean more injuries.

Vick knows he must play with precaution and try to avoid big hits. But he also cannot deprive himself - or the Eagles - of the talent that makes him a "threat," as he termed it. Vick's dual-threat ability changes the possibilities in Kelly's offense, so long as he proves he can stay on the field.

"I think you've got to take on a certain mind-set that you're going to play the game all-out," Vick said. "If you go into a football game not wanting to get hurt or trying not to get hurt, it doesn't allow you to play the way you want to play."


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

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