Eagles' Foles OK'd, eager to prove himself

DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Nick Foles returns to practice: 'I've cleared everything, I feel good. I felt good out there today.'
DAVID MAIALETTI / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER Nick Foles returns to practice: 'I've cleared everything, I feel good. I felt good out there today.'
Posted: October 31, 2013

NICK FOLES returned to practice, and presumably to the Eagles' starting-quarterback role yesterday, assuming Foles has no concussion setbacks this week.

"Oh, yeah," Foles said afterward, when asked if he is ready to go. "I've cleared everything, I feel good. I felt good out there today. It was a long week last week."

Sunday in Oakland, Foles likely will get a chance to show the Eagles and their fans he should not be written off, in the wake of his horrendous performance Oct. 20 vs. Dallas, which ended with Foles wobbling off the field three-quarters of the way through a 17-3 loss. Foles completed only 11 of 29 passes for 80 yards, often missing open receivers.

Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said on his 94WIP radio show Monday that he wanted to see Foles get another chance because that afternoon was so different from any of his previous seven NFL starts, or any game Foles ever played in college at Arizona.

"One game has never defined me, and it never will," Foles said yesterday.

Some observers have speculated Foles was injured before he suffered the concussion; he showed up on the injury report with a groin problem more than a week earlier, just before he earned NFC Offensive Player of the Week honors against Tampa. Foles said yesterday he was healthy against Dallas, he just didn't play well.

"I didn't execute like I needed to. I was a little - I was inaccurate on certain throws that I'm usually very accurate on," Foles said. "Just watching film, there's big plays that I missed."

Foles said he held onto the angst from that game longer than usual because "I didn't have another game to move on to" while recovering from the concussion. "I see the mistakes. I did not play well."

Foles said he was relieved to be healthy, of course, after what he said was the second concussion of his career, following one his freshman year in college, but he also was eager to address on the practice field the flaws that were evident against Dallas. Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said before practice Foles and rookie Matt Barkley were scheduled to split reps 50-50 yesterday, and that the Eagles would want to see how Foles felt after practicing, before making a decision on the Oakland starter.

"It was great to get back out there today, work on it, get back into my footwork, get back into delivering the ball with authority," Foles said.

The perception Foles must fight is that he was overwhelmed by the moment - a start at home against the Cowboys with first place in the NFC East on the line, at least for that week, and maybe a chance to wrest the No. 1 job from Michael Vick and spend the rest of the season proving he can be the Eagles' quarterback of the future.

Now, though, after Vick reinjured his hamstring Sunday against the Giants, the 33-year-old QB certainly won't play this week. No timetable beyond that has been offered. The bar is probably higher for Foles proving himself now - playing an OK game this weekend won't answer all the questions he raised against Dallas - but it seems he might still get the chance he covets.

"The pressure wasn't the thing, I just didn't play well," he said. "I've got to be very accurate with the ball, and I wasn't, and that's on me. That's something that I'm going to get out there and I'm going to work on. I play quarterback for a reason. I want the ball in my hands. I want to be able to make the decision. I want to be able to deliver it. I did not do that, that game. It was tough to deal with because it was a big game . . . You played bad, it creeps in that you let everybody down, but then you've got to get back to it and go, 'Hey, I can't mope, I can't do this.' You've got to study the film and man up and get out there."

Shurmur, asked if he had been able to review the Dallas film with Foles, said he had, but Shurmur didn't offer much in the way of insight.

"There are times when you just miss throws, and he missed more than his share," Shurmur said.

Shurmur said Kelly will make the decision on who starts, which could come as early as today or as late as just before the game.

Asked what he has to show to ensure he starts this weekend, Foles said: "Just to show 'em I have command . . . you want to have command of the huddle, command of where you're going with the ball. You want to be assertive with where you're going with the ball . . . Really just be myself."

Foles said he felt "better and better" as last week went on, took the ImPACT assessment test Monday and was cleared, presumably by an independent neurologist, as per NFL guidelines.

Wideout Jason Avant said Foles showed no ill effects from the concussion in yesterday's practice. After the Dallas meltdown, does Foles need to show his teammates something?

"We believe in him," Avant said. "Those games, they happen to the best players sometimes. They've definitely happened to me before. We definitely know that he can play this game, we're looking forward to him having a good game" in Oakland.

Barkley has ended up playing the last 2 weeks without taking starter's reps in practice. So he was glad to finally get a decent helping of those yesterday; Kelly could decide to go with Barkley, if he doesn't like what he sees from Foles in practice, or, like this past Sunday with Vick, Foles could be back on the sideline with a towel over his head four series into the game.

Working with the first team "helps with timing and just reading guys' body language and seeing how the first o-line operates and whatnot," Barkley said.

Barkley has been a starter every year since he was a high school freshman. This season has been an adjustment. Like Foles, he has not given up on proving he can be the Eagles' quarterback going forward. Someone close to the situation said the team is looking forward to seeing Barkley next spring, after a full offseason in which he presumably will not have had shoulder surgery, which affected his draft stock and his rookie preparation.

"It's a little tough. But a lot of things have been different for me this year," Barkley said. "I'm just learning to roll with it. I kind of feel like a shark who's smelled that first blood, and you don't really know where it's coming from. You're just trying to find it. I'm gonna keep swimming, keep pushing on. We'll see what happens."


On Twitter: @LesBowen

Blog: ph.ly/Eagletarian

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