Few were expecting rookie quarterback Nick Foles to make much noise this year after being drafted in the third round. Foles was expected to come to Philadelphia and sit behind quarterbacks Michael Vick and Mike Kafka while he learned the ropes. But if few expected him to grab headlines, even fewer expected him to have the kind of preseason numbers he put up. His 553 yards were second among all NFL quarterbacks, and he led the preseason in touchdown throws with six. He also finished third in quarterback rating, coming in at 110.1.
Foles won the primary backup job in the preseason and has since been watching and learning from the sidelines ever since. After Vick left last Sunday's game with a concussion, Foles was asked to lead the offense in a nationally televised game against the rival Cowboys.
While the Eagles ultimately came up short in the game, Foles had a promising performance. He finished the night 22-of-32 for 219 yards and a touchdown, an interception and an 85.3 quarterback rating. And along the way he gained the support of his teammates.
"There wasn't an issue with him being a rookie or anything like that," said offensive lineman Dennis Kelly after the game. "As soon as he came in the huddle it was, 'Alright, Nick. It's your offense now.'"
Foles was able to make some big plays, including a 44-yard touchdown bomb to Jeremy Maclin. But he also had an interception returned for a touchdown and made some questionable throws. Still, Foles carried himself like a veteran and battled. The guys on defense thought so, too.
"First game action, I think Nick played pretty well," said defensive tackle Fletcher Cox. "I don't think he was scared. I think he was ready. When his name was called, he was ready. He stood up, stuck his chest out and made some big plays."
Cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie had faced Foles every day in practice and has been impressed with the rookie's game. Now, he said, the team must get behind him if he is going to start this Sunday against Washington.
"I like Nick. I see Nick every day in practice from being the scout team quarterback and I see the passes he's capable of completing," Rodgers-Cromartie said. "The main thing is guys have to pull together and rally around him and let him know that we believe in him."
Foles will look to build off his encouraging performance last week. If he does start, he won't have to go it alone. He'll have the full support of the locker room behind him.
"He picked up the offense pretty quickly. He's a very smart kid," said left guard Evan Mathis. "He has incredible physical talent; very good natural ability. Has a pretty good arm on him and I think he's going to have a bright future in the NFL."
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