The sign in his locker reads "Walk Your Talk," and it is the way Michael Vick now leads his life. His past transgressions are very much public and very much debated, but they are in the past. The focus now is on Sunday and the Detroit Lions and Vick's first start since the 2006 season. Head coach Andy Reid made it official on Friday, ruling Kevin Kolb out for Week 2 and confirming that Vick would be the guy.
It will be Vick's first start at quarterback since December 31, 2006 when he played for Atlanta against the Eagles (OK, Vick started last year in a cameo role against San Francisco, but it was in his hybrid role). In many ways, it will be a celebration of how life on and off the field has turned around for Vick.
"I've put in a lot of work and I'm going to continue to do that," said Vick. "This journey is not finished. I am not where I want to be as a quarterback. I have a lot I can improve upon, so the goal every day is to go out and play better and help this team win."
The Eagles need a win on Sunday, no doubt. Tough loss to Green Bay in Week 1, and two key players were lost for the season when fullback Leonard Weaver (ACL) and center Jamaal Jackson (triceps) went down. Kolb and middle linebacker Stewart Bradley (concussion, also out this week) did not play in the second half. It was a bruising way to begin this football season, and the Eagles are now looking to bounce back and notch a big win and build some momentum.
In this league, of course, you look ahead. And what is ahead is Detroit and the Lions' home opener. Detroit's defense is fast and physical and the Lions are going to fly around and try to limit Vick and his running abilities on Sunday.
So Vick has to be a complete quarterback and not just heck on wheels running the football. He knows that every moment spent on the practice field this week was a benefit. He established some timing with his receivers and with the sync of the offense.
"It's been a good week of work," he said. "Every time I can get out there and play ball, I'm a happy guy. It can do nothing but help to get out there and practice," said Vick. "You want to establish some rhythm and when you are taking the reps, yeah, it's a big help."
What to expect from Vick? He's going to play within the offense and if he has time to set up and throw the football, he will do so. The Eagles don't want Vick to take one look down the field and then take off and make something happen with his legs. They want him to go through his progressions and allow DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin to get open against Detroit's secondary.
The Eagles have to handle a good Detroit front seven that figures to employ some tactics to keep Vick's mobility limited. Last week, of course, Green Bay's pressure forced Vick into some spectacular gallops. This time around, the Eagles would love Vick to have a pocket from which to operate. They don't want to abandon the offensive scheme to force Vick into the role he had in the past when Atlanta relied on him to run to daylight and mix in the passing game, too.
There is, of course, the side story of Vick's rise from two years of incarceration to the role of the starter in the NFL. He has stood tall in the face of a great deal of criticism and he has been a model Eagle. Vick is intent on building up his life once again through hard work, through humility and through the support of his family and his football loved ones.
"I'm taking this thing day by day, making sure that I detail my work in every way," said Vick. "I am looking at the big picture here. I've said it all along: I have to conduct myself on and off the field differently than I did before. I know that. I accept that responsibility. I'm aware of the mistakes I have made. I can't change those mistakes. I can apologize for them and I can pay for those mistakes, and I can vow to never do them again."
Hey, this game suddenly becomes a larger national story because Vick is starting. Once again, the pro-Vick and anti-Vick sides are opining. It is space-filler stuff, the kind of drivel the Eagles can't even think about.
Sunday's game is huge to help set up the season. The Eagles have to win the game minus four starters from the opening whistle of the very first game. That is a daunting task.
So from an internal standpoint, Sunday isn't about Vick's revival. It is a nice story, of course, and everyone here is rooting for the guy. Vick is a popular player in the locker room and among the coaches and staff. What is more important is winning the game, no matter how it is done. Once Kolb is healthy enough to play again, he goes in as the starter with no questions asked. The Eagles have committed to Kolb and they understand that there are some ups and downs that go along with the territory.
There is an undeniable added attraction to Sunday's game and, well, Vick is in the spotlight again for all the right reasons. He is a football player again, a starting quarterback on this Sunday, the leader of the offense. He intends to make it a game worth remembering.
"We are all in the same situation in that we need to win the game," said Vick. "That's really all that matters to me. Of course it is going to be a special feeling to start again, but once that goes away it's about winning. I'm excited about getting out there and playing. I felt good all week after playing on Sunday, taking a couple of hits, enjoying that hurt.
"I'm up to speed after a good week of practice. I'm ready to go."