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Foles Settles In For His 2nd Start

Michael Vick is out for a second consecutive week as he recovers from the concussion he suffered against Dallas, so Nick Foles stands in for another start and another chance to show the Eagles that he is the quarterback of the future and, hey, who knows, maybe the present.

All that Foles has been through this week is familiar ground, right up until the moment he sat in with the Monday Night Football crew for the production meeting. Still, there is no sense that Foles is overwhelmed by the idea of a prime-time game and the national showcase.

He just wants to play football.

"I can't wait to play," he said. "I'm just excited to get out there and play."

A tough game against Washington has done nothing to diminish Foles' enthusiasm and his bright-eyed optimism. He completed 21 of 46 passes last week, had those two early interceptions and struggled to find his timing playing behind an offensive line that had more than its share of troubles.

All Foles did after that game was digest everything that happened against the Redskins in the course of the following 24 hours and then move on and prepare for Carolina, a defense that he expects to "come after" him and the young, young, young Eagles offense.

The Eagles need Foles to grow up in a hurry if they any hope of joining the jumble that is the NFC East. New York leads the NFC East with a 6-4 record and hosts Green Bay on Sunday night. Both Washington and Dallas are 5-6. The Eagles are fourth in the NFC East at 3-7. It doesn't take a genius to figure out how important Monday night's game is.

Foles leads an all-rookie backfield along with running back Bryce Brown and fullback Stanley Havili, who spent last season on the practice squad and isn't, technically, a rookie. But you understand. The Eagles don't have much experience in the offensive backfield.

For Foles, Monday night represents another testing ground. How does he manage the huddle? How much has the game slowed down for him in a week's time? How well can he adjust to what Carolina's complex defense shows him, things that he has never seen before?

What can Foles do to get the football down the field to DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin and restore the threat of big plays in this offense?

Last week's game plan didn't help, either. The Eagles wanted more balance, but the early turnovers and Washington's quick scores put the Eagles in a hole and Foles ended up with 50 drop backs. That's too many. To beat Carolina, the Eagles have to muster some offensive balance and not allow Sean McDermott's attacking scheme to take over the game.

"I've just got to go out there and play my game and play within the offense," said Foles. "I know I've got to get the ball to our playmakers. That's on me. We're going to go out and have fun and play a good football game. We're all excited about it, playing in front of our great fans at our stadium."

Foles says and does all the right things. He's easy to root for. On the train back from Maryland after the loss to Washington, Foles visited his offensive mates and told them the loss was on him, and that he was responsible for the offense's lack of production. He is a born leader and he's comfortable in this role.

Now he has to enjoy some success. Some early points would help. Getting out to a lead in the first quarter would be huge.

The Eagles need to learn as much as they can about Foles. Vick is making progress coming back from his concussion and Andy Reid has said that Vick is the starting quarterback, when healthy. Who knows what a big game from Foles might mean?

At this stage, the Eagles are beyond desperate for a win. That they have even a scintilla of a chance to climb back into the race in the NFC East is remarkable. The Eagles are riding their rookie again, and Foles is looking for his next NFL jump in start No. 2.

"I'm going to play hard and give it everything I have," he said. "That's all I can do."

The results, we hope, speak volumes of the time and effort Foles has put in during the week preparing for his next showcase moment, one that he is approaching the right way.

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