Foles studies Brady during Eagles-Patriots workouts

Eagles quarterback Nick Foles takes part in a joint practice with the Patriots, the first of three between the teams, in Foxborough, Mass.
Eagles quarterback Nick Foles takes part in a joint practice with the Patriots, the first of three between the teams, in Foxborough, Mass. (YONG KIM / Staff Photographer)
Posted: August 14, 2014

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - Nick Foles' star has risen since he was last on a practice field with Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, but he's not yet in Brady's class. So the Eagles' three practices in New England will provide Foles with a chance to further study the future Hall of Famer.

"Of course, Tom's one of the best to ever play the game," Foles said. "It's great to watch him and see how he conducts an offense and where he throws a ball. It's great being out here from a learning standpoint."

Foles did not have a chance to speak with Brady during Tuesday's practice session. He's hoping to pick Brady's brain during the next two days.

Foles has cast himself as a student of quarterbacking. He grew up admiring John Elway. He considers four quarterbacks to be in the NFL elite: Brady, Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, and Aaron Rodgers. He has played against all four and spent time at the Pro Bowl with Brees, and this was his second practice session with Brady.

"He puts the ball where a receiver can get it, and he's smart with it," Foles said of Brady. "If he has underneath stuff, he takes it right away and he moves on to the next play. I think that's big. He's really good at play-action fakes. And movement in the pocket. I think everyone notices his movement in the pocket and moving away from pressure."

It might not be coincidence that Foles mentioned those skills because they are the ones the Eagles quarterback is trying to improve on during the preseason. He has placed an emphasis on reducing his sacks and throwing the ball more quickly, but Foles struggled in the preseason opener against Chicago, throwing two interceptions in the first quarter.

Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said Tuesday that on one of Foles' interceptions, he forced a pass on third and long that he typically would not attempt. And on the second interception, Foles simply made a bad pass.

"That had nothing to do with what he's been working on," Shurmur said. "Nick's training well. Nick's doing some good things. Fortunately, if you make some mistakes in the preseason, it doesn't hurt you."

Foles said he has moved past the performance. He made his corrections but conceded that he's going to make mistakes again. He said his teammates need to see that he will not become rattled after a poor outing.

History suggests that Foles can move on without issue. He was knocked out of a game against the Cowboys last October after completing only 11 of 29 passes. After he recovered from a concussion, he put up a seven-touchdown performance two weeks later. That started a stretch in which the Eagles went 7-1 and won the division. Foles earned a Pro Bowl appearance with a record-setting mark of 27 touchdowns and two interceptions.

"I'm not sure that anybody totally saw that coming," Patriots coach Bill Belichick said of Foles' season.

Belichick lauded what the Eagles did in Chip Kelly's inaugural campaign, referencing the quarterback play. It was not something Belichick foresaw when the Eagles practiced with the Patriots last August.

"The year that Foles had relative to production, touchdowns, interceptions, his overall handling a team was great," Belichick said. "It was outstanding. I don't know that at that point [when] we were there at training camp, I would have necessarily said that I saw that coming, but you see a good football player."

Belichick would know, having spent the last 14 years watching Brady's development into a three-time Super Bowl-winner. Foles has three days with Brady this week, and he wants to take advantage of that time.

"You try to emulate it," Foles said, "and you try to put it in your game."


zberman@phillynews.com

@ZBerm

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