Foles remains focused after Vick named starter

Foles remains focused after Vick named starter

August 20, 2013, 5:00 pm
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Nick Foles, seen here in the Eagles' preseason game vs. the Panthers, said he still wants to prove that he's a "great quarterback." (USA Today Images)

Nick Foles did not sound like a guy who had just lost a competition for the Eagles' starting quarterback job.

Based on his comments after Tuesday's practice, you might have thought the Eagles' starting quarterback competition was still going or that Foles had even won.

Because if he was even the least bit disappointed with Chip Kelly's decision to name Michael Vick the Eagles' starting quarterback (see story), he certainly didn't show it.

Foles seemed happier for Vick than he did sorry for himself.

"The competitor in me -- you always want to be playing," he said. "But at the same time, I love Mike. We've gone about it the right way. We have such a great friendship, and we've pushed each other, and I'm proud of him.”

Foles and Vick met individually with head coach Chip Kelly shortly before practice. Heading into the meeting, Foles said he was "keeping an open mind" and expecting head coach Kelly to maybe "clarify" what was going on heading in Saturday's preseason game against the Jaguars.

As it turns out, Vick will not only be playing the first half against Jacksonville but also Week 1 vs. Washington and every foreseeable game after that. Kelly said Tuesday that Vick won't be on a "one-game trial basis," that he's the starter for the season.

"[Kelly] thought we both played well and that we both have grown as players," Foles said. "But the coaches had to come down to a decision and they wanted to go with Mike.

"I respect everything that coach did. I respect his decision. I respect everything. I think they're really doing things the right way and I'm excited to go to work."

So where, then, does that leave the 24-year-old, 2012 third-round pick?

"I'm going to do anything I can to help [Vick] become the best quarterback possible," Foles said. "We're very fortunate to be in this league. We had a great battle, and Mike did a great job and he's going to continue to do a great job and I'm going to do anything I can to help him."

That was a point the second-year pro touched on over and over Tuesday -- that he wants to do everything he can to make Vick and his teammates better. There was no selfishness or resentment or even sadness in the way Foles handled himself.

He said he took "one-tenth of a second" to process the information, and then re-focused on practice -- pretty much the opposite of everyone who will be calling into sports talk radio stations Tuesday.

Foles started six games in his rookie season after Vick went down with an injury. The Eagles went just 1-5 with Foles as the starter, but the blame could hardly be placed on him.

In seven games, Foles completed 60.8 percent of his passes for 242 yards per game, six touchdowns and five interceptions. If anything, he was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise horrid season that got Andy Reid fired and ultimately made Chip Kelly in charge of the quarterback race once the Eagles decided to bring back Vick on a one-year deal.

Through two games this preseason, Foles completed 78 percent of his passes on four drives, turning the ball over once in each game but leading the offense to a touchdown on its next possession on both occasions. And though he isn't as athletic as Vick, Foles has shown surprising mobility, scrambling around in the backfield and completing throws on the run in an offense many assumed would not fit him well.

But beyond playing the good soldier behind Vick, it's unclear what's next. Kelly said Tuesday Foles will be with the Eagles Week 1, amidst speculation that the team could look to trade him.

Given Vick's injury history -- he's played 16 games only once in 10 professional seasons -- it won't be surprising if Foles hangs around and winds up leading this team sooner or later in 2013.

After that, Vick will be a free agent at the end of the season, and Foles is under contract through 2015.

He could still become the Eagles' starting quarterback at some point in the future. But that time isn't now.

"I'm going to keep working hard," Foles said. "I want to prove I'm a great quarterback. My mindset is to become a starter."

Whether that happens over the long-term with the Eagles remains to be seen.

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