Quarterback Vince Young did not even practice for a full week with his new team before taking the field Thursday in the Eagles' preseason opener against the Ravens. However, Young can already hear head coach Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg in the back of his mind when out on the field.
It was the first play of the second quarter. Young was lined up in the shotgun with Ronnie Brown to his left. Young took the snap and went into a five-step drop. The Ravens executed a stunt up front, but the offensive line picked it up. Ravens defensive end Paul Kruger eventually got pressure up the middle and flushed Young to his left where defensive end Pernell McPhee nearly got a hold of him. In the past, Young would have likely pulled the ball down and scrambled ahead but he heard the voices of his coaches telling him to keep his feet underneath him and eyes down the field.
Young found his hot read in wide receiver Chad Hall who was open 25 yards away and delivered the ball effortlessly. Hall gained 32 total yards on the play which ended at the Ravens' 35-yard line and set up an Alex Henery field goal to pad the Eagles' lead as they won the game 13-6.
Running the second-team offense, Young was 3-of-5 for 45 yards passing and he also had a 6-yard scramble in his first action with the Eagles.
"It was a learning experience. I still have (three) more (preseason) games, a couple of more practices so I just want to take my time and continue to keep working in the film room and studying," Young said. "The things that (the coaches) are saying to you at practice they do show in the football games. If you're doing the things at practice, you're going to definitely do it in the games as well."
On July 29, the Eagles and Young agreed to terms on a one-year deal. Despite being a Pro Bowl quarterback with the Titans, Reid strongly considered not giving Young any playing time because of his inexperience with the new offense. However, Young knew that without preseason reps there would be no true way to gauge his progress.
"I just wanted to get out there and see how I did with calling plays and things like that," Young said. "I give (Reid) respect for letting me get a chance to get out there on the field and get something to watch on film when we get back to camp."
Young wasn't the only player getting used to the offense on Thursday night. On the 32-yard toss to Hall, only two of the five offensive linemen were on the team last season - left tackle Austin Howard and right guard Mike McGlynn, although all of the linemen are learning Howard Mudd's new scheme. At center, Young had a rookie in Jason Kelce. Veteran additions Evan Mathis and Ryan Harris were at left guard and right tackle, respectively. Also on the field with Young in that series was rookie first-round pick Danny Watkins at right guard. With all of the new faces, Young knew that he had to have command of the huddle.
"You have to have control of the offense. Don't do too much thinking, just go out there and play football. That's what we did today," Young said. "We had a couple of mishaps, but overall you can't have any perfect games."
In five years in Tennessee where Young was off-and-on the starter, he only was under center for the playoffs once. Here in Philadelphia, Young may not get to be the man with Michael Vick atop the depth chart but he knows there is an opportunity to be a part of something special.
"It's an opportunity and a blessing and I want to run with it," Young said.
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