When the Eagles open the season in Cleveland this Sunday afternoon, Michael Vick will be under center as quarterback. That much had already been confirmed by head coach Andy Reid, despite Vick's absence from the final two preseason games on the heels of a rib injury suffered during the second preseason game against the New England Patriots. But Monday, in the team's first official practice of Week 1, Vick was a full participant, unhampered by injury and capable of doing everything that makes Vick Vick.
"I felt great at practice," said the quarterback Monday afternoon. "My arm felt fresh and my legs felt good. I threw the ball really well, and I had a chance to make some throws that I haven't made in a long time. It felt good to be back and I'm extremely excited."
Sunday will mark the first test in what is an important season for the 32-year-old. Reid has lauded Vick for his leadership this offseason, the first true offseason for Vick as the starting quarterback. On the heels of the 4-0 run to close the 2011 season, Vick's expectations are high, but near-reaching.
"Our whole thing was to maintain a certain level of focus and excitement within ourselves and not go out and talk about it," Vick said of team's last four games in 2011. "Internally, we know what we have. Last season is over with. We were faced with a dilemma and we came through when we needed to. We pretty much face a dilemma week in and week out in a 16-game season with the games you have to play. This time, we're coming back in with that same edge."
"It's been awhile since I played in a playoff game. In 2010, we made it and it was sort of a different season. We wanted to win, and it was just like it suddenly happened and we were in the playoffs. I don't think we took it for granted, and we just didn't seize the moment. Now, it's all about seizing the moment - getting an opportunity and taking full advantage of it. As a team, we just want to put ourselves in a position to compete. I think that's where it all starts. Our short-term goals are to be the best that we can be, week in and week out, and that's how we'll advance to the postseason."
Behind Vick, the Eagles' quarterback depth chart looks like a little different than one might have envisioned it at the start of Training Camp. The backup is third-round rookie Nick Foles, who earned the trust of his teammates, Vick included, with a sparkling preseason.
"I feel very confident in Nick's ability to run this offense," Vick said. "He did a great job in the preseason and had great numbers, showed extreme poise, and the ability to make each and every throw. That's what you look for in a quarterback – the understanding of the game, the big-time arm, and the poise to go out there and remain consistent."
Behind Foles is veteran Trent Edwards, who beat out Mike Kafka for the third quarterback job. All preseason, Kafka was the presumptive number two, and worked very closely with Vick. As the Eagles head into the regular season, Vick says, Kafka is gone but not forgotten.
"Our quarterbacks – and you've heard me say this all year – we just have a great group of guys," said Vick. "I enjoy being around them, and they're fun to be around. They make me laugh and they make each other laugh. Mike Kafka was a great quarterback, and Trent (Edwards) is, too. We try and help one another, and we'll be supportive of Mike until his last day in the NFL."
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