For the first time in his entire life, Michael Vick is a No. 2 quarterback.
The uber-talented former first overall draft pick spent the weekend running the second-string offense during the Eagles' mini-camp, and it was clear to on-lookers that the suddenness and quickness of the "old Michael Vick" has started to return. Of course, Vick spent the 2009 season as the No. 3 quarterback, running his specialty "wildcat" packages and re-acclimating himself to football after his incarceration. Now, with a full season of coaching and practicing under his belt, Vick is closer to the player he was at the peak of his career.
"As a competitor, as an athlete, you always feel like you're the greatest," Vick said. "But in reality, I wasn't there (last year). As I watched myself on film and just and just hearing the guys talking - because I can't see it, I can only react. I feel good when I'm doing it, but I can't see it from the outside looking in. Everybody's telling me I look like my old self, and I feel that way. My quickness is there. Just the sudden movements that I used to have that I did instinctively, without even thinking about it, it's back."
Vick said that returning to form was just a matter of getting the reps and spending time working with coaches. But just because he feels closer to the player he feels he can still be doesn't mean that Vick is unhappy in the No. 2 role, despite outside conjecture.
"My mindset is I'm here, I'm going to make the most of it, I'm going to help this team win football games, I'm enjoying myself, I'm happy and I'm having fun," he said. "Sometimes that's more important than things that you want to have for yourself or to happen. I put my faith in God and I trust in him and I'm here for a reason. So, I'm going to take advantage of it.
"I'm running with the two's and it's full-time and this is my permanent job, to coordinate the offense when I'm with them. So it's a little different, it's a different feel but at the same time, what I tell myself is 'Try to get better as a quarterback.' It's helping me in so many ways because I don't get the protection that I would from the one's, so I have to move a little bit, so it's helping me. Everything happens for a reason and I think God put me in this position for a reason and I trust him."
And while he would obviously like to be a starter, Vick acknowledges that he's becoming a better player. For one thing, Vick has learned to keep his head up and watching downfield while he's scrambling away from the pocket, something he said has been preached to him throughout his time in Philadelphia.
"I think he looks great," said head coach Andy Reid of Vick. "Any time he gets into trouble, he's out of there. You see his quickness and speed back. He's throwing the ball confidently.
"If there's a breakdown, all the movements, I'm good with, as long as your eyes are down the field when you're doing that. He's doing all the moving in that pocket and things are constricted, but he's always looking for the thrown down the field. He's working the offense the way it's supposed to work."
Even though he's well-aware of his immense physical attributes, Vick said that getting back to where he wants to be as a quarterback has as much to do with the feel for the game as anything else.
"When you have a mobile quarterback, you only move when your body tells you to move, or based off your feel," he said. "In this league, you can't drop back saying, 'I'm going to run.' It just doesn't work that way. If you do that, you won't gain positive yards. When you run, you run because you have to, because it's off instinct. So that's what I do. Sometimes you'll see me drop back ten times in a row and throw the ball, and then sometimes I have to scramble out. It's just all feel, and that's the way the game has to be played."
Vick was also asked how he felt about rumblings of the Eagles' interest in quarterback Jeff Garcia, a rumor that was started under the assumption that the Eagles felt uncomfortable in Vick's ability to run the offense.
"I know I can (run the offense), so I wasn't worried about that," he said. "I know I have special talents and I know that I can do things that certain people can't do. And everybody's good in their own right, and I know what makes me a special quarterback and a special individual. Some guys are probably pure pocket passers. Some guys have the ability to scramble and move. So there are different things that you can do and I believe in my abilities, just to say that."
So as mini-camp wraps up, Vick will continue to stay in Philadelphia with his family and working out at the NovaCare Complex almost every day under head strength & conditioning coach Barry Rubin's off-season conditioning program. He'll also work closely with the team's No. 1 quarterback in the weight room, on the field, and on the links.
"Kevin (Kolb)? That's my guy," Vick said. "We golf together ... Our lockers are next to each other, so we're always engaging in conversation, always trying to help each other, help one another. And that's the way it's supposed to be. Here's a guy who's trying to get his career going. I think he has a great opportunity. I think he's going to make the most of it. And he's working hard, that's the most important part. If you work at this game, you can only get better, and he'll excel."