The daily preparation as if he were the starting quarterback and the extra reps, both this week and throughout the offseason, have Nick Foles ready for whatever scenario presents itself come Sunday afternoon when the Eagles play the Buccaneers in Tampa Bay.
"I'm staying ready," Foles said Thursday. "My mindset always is (that I'm) starting, no matter what. Even if I'm on the bench or whatever, my mindset is always to start. I was preparing like I was going to start, so it doesn't change."
A major advantage to the way Chip Kelly runs practice is that there are an increased number of reps to go around to every player, which is especially valuable for quarterbacks. Foles received plenty of first-team reps in Training Camp but has been taking the second-team reps since Michael Vick was named the starting quarterback. For the first time in over six weeks, Foles is again taking those first-team reps in practice as Vick continues to make his way back from a hamstring injury.
"It definitely helps to get first-team reps," Foles said. "It helps to get a lot of reps … Mike's played a lot of games in his career, so he has a lot of reps built up mentally and physically. He's a guy that can always be ready to play. But it does help having the first-team reps, and it's fun being out there getting reps."
Those extra reps that built up over the course of Training Camp and into the regular season have also allowed Foles to achieve a certain comfort level within the offense, which is why he could come into the game against the Giants and operate the offense without a hitch.
"I feel comfortable," Foles said. "That's why in practice you rep it and you play at that tempo in practice. We worked on it all throughout the offseason and into (Training Camp). You get used to it, so when you're in there, you fit right in. You know the tempo you need to play at and you go do it."
In addition to the practice reps, Foles' experience as the starting quarterback last season serves as as a valuable resource because of the comfort he developed in learning the tendencies of receivers like DeSean Jackson and Riley Cooper.
"It helps to have the reps, but last year I threw to these guys and this year during (Training Camp)," Foles said. "I've gotten used to how they run their routes, so I feel really, really comfortable. But every day you get the reps, you build up the reps and you can see that week what routes you're going to run. You really feel how each receiver runs it so you can get a feel for when to release the ball and how to do it."
In preparing for the Buccaneers, Foles has watched the film from last season's epic last-second victory. He recalled how the team came together in an adverse situation and never stopped fighting, and how that proved to him what it took to lead men and win in the NFL. On a personal level, Foles feels that game helped catapult his development and that he has only gotten better since then.
"I feel like I've improved since that game last year," Foles said. "I feel like I've just continued to grow as a quarterback and feel like I've improved in every area, just from working and maturing with age. I think if you keep working at it, you're most likely going to get better at it."
At his core, Foles is not concerned with being the starter and has never been one to welcome the spotlight. He prefers to see himself as a facilitator, and his sole focus is to make his teammates better and to put his team in the best possible position to win the game when he is under center.
"You don't really set your sight on, 'Alright, I'm doing this to become the starter, this is what it is,'" Foles said. "You set your sight on, 'Alright, I'm going to try to make my teammates better today and be ready to play in this game and get the win for my teammates, for this team, for this organization and for the people of Philadelphia.' So you're not really going out there and playing for yourself, I don't approach it that way. When I'm out there, I'm playing for my teammates. I know that I have to execute to put them in a great position. I know the line's blocking. I know the defense is doing its thing. My job is to be sharp and be precise with the ball. If a mistake does happen, which it will happen, it's how am I going to handle that right after it happens. I'm ready to go out there again and throw it. That's how I approach it. I don't really worry about that stuff, I worry about making my teammates better and when I get into the game, putting us in a good position to win."
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