Philadelphia Eagles News

Cloak Of Secrecy Surrounds Vick's Debut

Andy Reid isn't budging. Oh, he admitted that Michael Vick would make his Eagles preseason debut on Thursday night and that he is as interested as we are to see how Vick responds to the game tempo after two years away, but that's about all he would say. Vick will play at some point in the opening three quarters of the game while the starters are on the field. How much he is going to play, where he is going to be used and what the X's and O's are all about remain a mystery.

Certainly, Reid could be playing the coy role here. He simply may not want to say much about Vick's involvement in the offense as a way of keeping the plans under wraps. Maybe the Eagles are working on so many way-out schemes with Vick that they don't want Carolina or New Orleans or Kansas City or Tampa Bay to have any idea what to expect when No. 7 is on the field during the first quarter of the regular season.

Then again, maybe Reid really doesn't know what to expect from Vick. He has seen Vick in practice for nearly two weeks, just enough time to get a glimpse of his strong arm and marvelous athletic ability. He has worked with Vick in the classroom to gain a quick knowledge of the West Coast offense. Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg have probably tossed around a few ideas on how to best use Vick, and they want Thursday to be a toe-in-the-water step before they throw Vick in the ocean all the way and fully integrate him into the scheme.

Who knows? It sure adds some fun and some intrigue to the third preseason game, one that has generated a ton of interest and is shrouded in the mystery of Michael Vick.

"I can only go off of what I've seen in practice and it looks like he's moving around pretty good but again, realistically it's been two years," said Reid. "We'll see how it works out and give him a couple shots in there and see what he can do."

What can the coaches truly tell from a handful -- a large handful, but a handful, nonetheless -- of practices during which Vick wears a red jersey and, thus, nobody is permitted to lay a gloved finger on him? Yeah, the Eagles practice fast and they are precise and they get in a lot of work, but who is to say how Vick will react when a mass of defensive humanity comes hurtling at him on the short side of the field on a third-and-6 play?

Hey, maybe the coaches know. Maybe Reid and Mornhinweg and David Culley and James Urban and Ted Williams and Tom Melvin and Doug Pederson have had offensive meetings and have each submitted a couple of sketches of plays to include Vick. Maybe the Eagles are going to take a look a Vick now at quarterback and then have him move around the formation next week against the Jets and really give defensive coordinators nightmares when it is their time to game plan against the Eagles.

Maybe.

Maybe.

Maybe not.

At least Reid was consistent on Tuesday when asked repeatedly about Vick and the expectations and the plan for Vick in this game. See, we all want to know the plan. We want to know what the future holds for Vick and for the Eagles. And, well, Reid kept his thoughts focused on one game and one game only.

"I'm really just going to take it play by play, see how he adjusts to the game speed," said Reid. "If I think that's a problem I'd probably discontinue the reps, but if I feel like he's adjusting okay then I'd continue to give him an opportunity there."

I admit to daydreaming about what might happen. Vick trots out to the field as a quarterback and the crowd rises. He lines up under center and drops back, rolls to his left and the defensive backs bite up anticipating a run and, snap, there's a 47-yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson. And the crowd goes crazy, wanting more. And then the next time Vick plays he rolls left and keeps rolling all the way for a 72-yard touchdown run and ....

OK, time to wake up. This happens sometimes. Eagles delirium. You understand, I know.

Anyway, Vick is going to play and he is going to play with the starters in some way, shape or form and maybe he and Donovan McNabb will be on the field together and, as Reid said, he isn't afraid to use the Wildcat formation and show it to the rest of the NFL and ...

I'm breathless. We're in the hump-day part of the preseason, and Vick's presence adds a tremendous sizzle to the game. The Eagles Television Network is broadcasting the game and the NFL Network is going to have live look-ins at the action and there will be a much higher number of media in the house reporting on the event.

To the outside world, this is, indeed an event. Vick has to appear in Virginia earlier in the day for a bankruptcy hearing and his every move will, I imagine, chronicled and tweeted and broadcast over the World Wide Leader in Sports by personal Vick-stalker Sal Paolantonio (just having fun, Sal Pal) and so we'll know where Vick is every minute of the day. Kind of like the Christmas Eve Santa Claus tracker I enjoyed so much when I was nine years old.

To the Eagles world, Thursday's game is an important 60 minutes. There are roster battles to be had and jobs to be won. And in the case of Vick, there is a sense of discovery here. What can Michael Vick offer the Eagles? Andy Reid isn't saying because A) He truly doesn't know, or; B) He isn't saying a thing until Vick plays in the regular season.

Either way, the suspense is such a tease, and it makes this game so much fun to see.

* NEWS AND NOTES AND THIS AND THAT *

  • OK, so what does the addition of Tony Curtis mean at tight end? It has to mean something that the Eagles signed him without seeing him completely healthy (Curtis has a high ankle sprain), and it has to mean something when Reid describes him as a "big, strong, line of scrimmage player." This is something you don't hear that often about the Eagles. Does Curtis make the team before he is totally healthy? Is he on the verge of being 100 percent healthy and the Eagles just want to look at him for a week and see if he can block? The team is too heavy at tight end now with Brent Celek, Matt Schobel, Rob Myers, Eugene Bright and now Curtis. Way too heavy. It's going to be interesting to see how this position looks in a couple of weeks.
  • For all of you who want T.J. Duckett now that he was released by Seattle, I have to say I'm not with you. That's not to say the Eagles won't be interested, because Duckett is a quality short-yardage back. But what else does he do? I'd need to know more. And if you think the Eagles are going to keep a third halfback because he can gain a first down on a third-and-1 play, I don't see it. Leonard Weaver can do that if you are looking for a "big" back. Truthfully, I'm not sure the Eagles can keep three halfbacks active every week.
  • Stacy Andrews is ready to go. "I'm amped," he said. "I'm going to go out there 100 miles an hour." Andrews has practiced every day, he looks good and it sure seems like he is ready, barring a setback, to see his first game action since tearing his ACL in a late-season game for the Bengals in 2008. "I heard a lot of stories from people when it first happened about how long it would take me to get back," he said. "I used that as motivation. I gave it everything I had to get healthy, and here I am."
  • Nothing new on right tackle Shawn Andrews, who is still not practicing. Obviously, if he doesn't get on the field within the next week, it will be very, very difficult for him to play in the opener.
  • Curtis Gatewood has one of the most difficult jobs in the world on Thursday night. With everyone around him moving at warp speed and actually knowing where they are going, Gatewood is going to play with almost no knowledge of special teams and of the defensive scheme. Good luck, kid. About the only thing he can do is keep running to the ball and hope he catches up once in a while.
  • There is this notion that the Eagles are all kinds of beaten up physically, and it is true that they have lost Stewart Bradley and Cornelius Ingram for the season with knee injuries, and it's true that the offensive line has yet to spend time together. But they get back Stacy Andrews, Brian Westbrook, Trent Cole and Kevin Kolb this week. That is a great start to becoming as close to whole as they can for the Panthers on September 13. You want to see a team really hurting? Look at Carolina and the Giants and let me know what you see.
  • Offensive guard Todd Herremans said at his locker on Tuesday that he is fully confident that his "stress reaction" will heal in time for him to play against the Panthers. "I'm very optimistic about it," he said.
  • Funny scene in the locker room as Vick dressed after practice with about two dozen members of the media forming a half circle around his locker. McNabb went running over and said, "I'm talking to Michael! I'm talking to Michael!" and then the two of them left the locker room together. A chuckle-worthy moment.
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