Likely the backup now, Vick says he won't be a distraction

Michael Vick
Michael Vick
Posted: November 14, 2013

A year after it seemed all but certain that his career with the Eagles was over, Michael Vick faces an uncertain future in which the only likely scenario is that he will be playing for another team next year.

He is injured, Nick Foles is playing well and winning, and there are only six games remaining in the one-year contract Vick signed in the offseason.

During an interview with The Inquirer, Vick said he did not know if he was still the Eagles' No. 1 quarterback. But sources close to the 33-year old have said that even when Vick returns, they expect Foles to remain the starter.

"That's not something that I'm thinking about at this point," Vick said Tuesday. "The last thing I want to be is a distraction to this team. I'm just working hard to get myself healthy."

Vick is not expected to be ready for Sunday's game against the Redskins. He did not rule out a return, but he also said that he did not want to rush back for fear of aggravating his strained hamstring for the second time.

Coach Chip Kelly said he has been reluctant to name a starter from week to week because of injuries.

"I think what we've done for the last two weeks has worked for us pretty good, so we're going to stick with that formula," Kelly said Monday. "It's got us 16 touchdowns, no interceptions, and two wins, so why would we change?"

Kelly was referring to Foles' overall number of touchdowns, but his production over the last two games - 10 touchdowns, no interceptions and a 155.3 passer rating - has been unprecedented for an Eagles quarterback.

The Eagles are 5-5 and tied atop the NFC East with the Cowboys. If they beat Washington, they would have a half-game lead on dormant Dallas heading into their bye week and Foles' lock on the starting job would be all but cemented.

Even if Foles were to struggle, his overall resumé this season would likely be enough for Kelly to stick with his second-year quarterback. Vick said that his expiring contract could factor into a decision to ride Foles, who is signed through 2015, until the end of the year.

"That could be a possibility," Vick said. "I wouldn't rule that out, but at the same time the most important thing for me is to be 100 percent, just in case I'm ever needed again."

Last season, Vick lost his job in December when the organization decided to see what it had in its rookie. But when Foles broke his hand before the season finale, Vick agreed to play in the meaningless game.

Vick has appeared to be an exemplary teammate. He supported Kevin Kolb when Kolb was named the starter in 2010, even though it would take only months before he supplanted him. He accepted last season's demotion without a peep. And for the most part he welcomed an offseason of competition with Foles.

After Foles guided the Eagles past the Giants and the Buccaneers, Vick took the podium beside his then-backup and gave him his blessing before Foles was to start against the Cowboys.

Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said that Vick, even though he has been limited on the field, has been "just as involved" and "helpful" in meetings. The players on offense, some of whom grew up avid Vick fans, remain steadfast in their support.

But there doesn't appear to be a split in the locker room, even if Kelly's lack of clarity on the starter is uncommon. The 49ers had a similar situation last season when Jim Harbaugh waited until Alex Smith returned from a concussion before naming Colin Kaepernick his starter.

"That's rare that you have two quarterbacks who are both kind of considered starters," center Jason Kelce said. "Most times when teams are successful they have one guy and he's the guy. I think it just kind of goes with Chip's philosophy. It doesn't really matter who's at quarterback . . . he's going to find a way to be successful."

The offense has had moments of true excellence with both quarterbacks. Foles isn't especially mobile, but he has shown that he can be effective with Kelly's zone-read. Three of his five carries for 41 yards against the Packers were for first downs.

"Nick's played great . . . He's played confident," Vick said. "He's playing the way we know he can play."

Vick had been effective before he first strained his hamstring on Oct. 6, but he has missed 15 games and counting to injury over the last four seasons. There likely will be a market for him next offseason, but it may not be as a starter.

"I do consider myself a starter, but if [Kelly] has a viable explanation or good reason for why it should be anything different, I've got to understand that," Vick said, adding: "One thing about it, I'm confident in my abilities. We all know what I can do when I'm out there."

Barring an injury to Foles, it's unlikely he'll be out there again for the Eagles.


jmclane@phillynews.com

@Jeff_McLane

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