It begins on Sunday for Michael Vick and the Eagles, and the prep time now is critical. Vick is taking the reps as the No. 1 quarterback here, of course, and there is no dispute. This is Michael Vick's team.
The challenge, is as we know, to jump into the season hot after such an inactive preseason. Vick threw all of seven passes, suffered a pair of injuries, and watched as quarterbacks Nick Foles and Trent Edwards led the Eagles to a 4-0 record and piled up the points and the yards.
Vick needs to be every bit as efficient and as effective. His style is different than Foles' or Edwards' and there is the thinking that it's going to take some time to get the offense in sync all over again.
That may be true. But the Eagles conduct high-tempo practices and the players have a lot of familiarity among themselves and it is certainly reasonable to expect a cohesive offensive starting Sunday at 1 p.m. at Cleveland Browns Stadium.
Vick's job is to play fast football in mind and in body. The worst thing he can do is tread lightly and slow himself down with decision making and physical hesitation. So the Browns are going to go after him? See it, and make the right reads, and distribute the football. If there's an opening to run? Take it, and make sure to be smart at the end of the gallop.
Given the injury-riddled preseason and the tremendous amount of attention paid to the situation, you wonder how much of this, if any, has gotten to Vick. He is asked over and over about the injuries and about how he is planning to stay healthy and, well, is it at all in his head? Will it negatively affect the way he plays?
The sense here is that Vick is well aware of the need to stay healthy. He doesn't need a group of reporters to remind him how important he is to this football team. He doesn't go on the field looking to take big hits. He wants to avoid contact.
But Vick has also played a certain style for his entire career, and there is only so much he can change. Once the whistle blows, Vick is going to be who he has always been.
Perhaps, though, he will demonstrate just a touch of restraint, just enough to live for another player. He doesn't have to change his style; rather, he needs only to modify the little things and avoid the massive hits from charging defenders who see an easy target on the front and back of his No. 7 jersey.
More than anything, though, and this is to be underlined 50 times, Vick must be quick with his game. Not hurried, mind you, but quick. He will be prepared, yes, and he's going to have to take advantage of that prep time to see things before they happen and to play a step ahead of Cleveland's defense. You can bet that the Browns are going to blitz. Vick and the game plan will be prepared for the pressure.
Beyond that, we can talk all we want about this position or that player or another matchup on the field. Those sub-stories only matter so much. The meal ticket is Vick, and he knows it. He's reminded of it every day, in every way. The Eagles need him on the field, or the franchise must face the reality of a new era starting at the position.
NEWS, NOTES AND A LITTLE BIT OF THIS AND THAT
- Vic Carucci from ClevelandBrowns.com had a lot of good things to say about safety David Sims, acquired in a trade on Friday from the Browns. "He was all over the field in the preseason and he made plays," said Carucci. "Frankly, I was surprised he didn't make this roster." For now, Sims is going to get a shot on the field on special teams. He has a lot to learn about the defense.
- In the preseason win over Cleveland, both Trent Cole and Darryl Tapp worked against Browns left tackle Joe Thomas and had some success. That's a battle the Eagles need to win against an outstanding player like Thomas. The Browns run a lot of their plays through Thomas.
- I'm still not sure of the status of cornerback Joe Haden, who reportedly is going to miss the first four games of the season because of a league violation. Nothing has been announced officially. Haden is Browns' best defensive player. He had an interception against Foles in the preseason game.
- How many defensive ends will the Eagles dress? No more than five, and perhaps four. As promising as he is, Vinny Curry is going to have to be patient this season.
- LeSean McCoy seems quite convinced that he's going to have his workload cut down this year from where it was in 2011, and we'll see about that. The question really is: If McCoy doesn't get the touches, who does? Will it be Dion Lewis or Bryce Brown or even Chris Polk, or a combination of the three? Keeping four halfbacks is understandable, given the way they played in the summer. How the Eagles are going to use them ... I just don't know how it's going to work week to week, and I'm not sure the coaches do at this point, either.