The Eagles havent ruled out Michael Vick for their home opener against the Giants Sunday, despite a mild concussion he suffered in the third quarter of their loss to the Falcons in Atlanta.
A team official said the Eagles believe Vick actually has a good chance of being cleared in time for the Eagles home opener against the Giants Sunday afternoon.
Eagles head coach Andy Reid wouldnt name a starter if Vick is unable to go Sunday, but a team official said Reid is leaning toward giving Mike Kafka his first NFL start if Vick cant play.
Vick cant return to action until hes cleared by an independent, league-approved neurologist and goes through a series of league-mandated tests.
Since the new NFL guidelines went into effect late in the 2009 season, every Eagle whos suffered a concussion has missed at least one game Brian Westbrook and DeSean Jackson in 2009 and Jackson, Riley Cooper, Kevin Kolb, Stewart Bradley and Max Jean-Gilles in 2010.
But Eagles trainer Rick Burkholder said Monday that Vicks concussion in medical terms barely qualifies as a concussion according to a comparison of a baseline brain test taken before the season and a similar test he underwent at the Georgia Dome Sunday night.
Asked how close Vick was to technically not having a concussion, based on the leagues approved guidelines, he said, He was pretty close. Im not going to give you numbers, but he was pretty close.
We had to make a medical decision with him, and he went with that, but he was close. ... He was just a little bit off, enough that we acted on the side of caution.
Burkholder and Reid said Vick was lucid and had no memory loss or any other outward signs of a concussion soon after the game ended.
He was absolutely fine Sunday night, Burkholder said. He told Coach he was fine, he told his teammates he was fine, he told me he was fine he was very, very far along (in the recovery process) last night.
Burkholder said Vicks testing could begin as soon as later Monday with an MRI and possibly a meeting with team orthopedic Dr. Gary Dorshimer.
What if Vick cant play?
Reid will likely choose Kafka over two-time Titans Pro Bowl pick Vince Young, simply because Young has missed a couple weeks of practice with his hamstring injury, and Reid is concerned that if he gives Young all the work with the starting offense during the week and Young tweaks his hamstring or is not quite 100 percent yet, Kafka would have to enter the game anyway without getting any first-team reps. Andy Reid is extremely unlikely to split the practice reps.
Young, a two-time Pro Bowl quarterback with the Titans, has been inactive for the first two regular-season games after getting hurt on Sept. 1 in the preseason finale against the Jets at the Meadowlands.
Kafka made his NFL debut on national TV Sunday night and completed seven of nine passes for 72 yards, nearly rallying the Eagles back from a 35-31 fourth-quarter deficit. Of his two incomplete passes, one was dropped by Jeremy Maclin on a crucial 4th-and-4 and the other was a Hail Mary on the games final play.
Definitely getting out there and getting in a game gives you more confidence for the next time you play, Kafka said. I always feel prepared, but I think getting that first playing time out of the way, you do feel a little more ready.
Hopefully, Mike is able to go, but if hes not I feel ready. Ill just prepare the way I always do. Nothing changes for me.
Reid said he was kicking himself in the tail for not being more aggressive with his play calling on Kafkas first two drives, even though Kafka was making his first NFL appearance.
When you have a lead, you get after it and you stay aggressive, and I didnt set the tempo for that, Reid said.
Ive got a young quarterback in Mike Kafka that I was way, way too conservative with, and I think that sent a message to our football team and not a positive message one."
And so for those first couple series that he was in, I did something that I normally dont do and I do have trust in Michael ... so Im kicking myself in the tail for that right now. Its my responsibility to make sure that we play reckless, aggressive football, and when the head coach doesnt do that, thats not a good sign.
E-mail Reuben Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org