Matt Barkley battling for Eagles' backup QB job

Matt Barkley battling for Eagles' backup QB job
June 11, 2014, 11:00 am
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Matt Barkley threw four interceptions and no touchdowns in 49 attempts for the Eagles last season. (AP)

Matt Barkley figures he and Nick Foles are both taking the same approach to last year.

Forgetting about it.

“He’s not worried about last year, as great as his was, and I’m not, as bad as mine was,” Barkley said. “We can’t dwell on that. New year, and I’m excited for what the future holds.”

Barkley goes into Year 2 trying to move past a disappointing rookie season that saw him forced into action in two games after injuries to Michael Vick and Foles and also saw him throw four interceptions and no touchdowns in 49 attempts.

Barkley dealt with a lot last year. He was still recovering from a shoulder injury that cut short his senior year at USC. The two times he played he didn’t get any reps during the week. And when he played, he wasn’t able to put any points on the board in either game, a pair of October losses to the Cowboys and Giants.

That’s not the real Matt Barkley, he said. Not the guy who was fourth in the 2011 Heisman Trophy balloting and was the fourth quarterback taken in the 2013 draft.

“If people know me and they know who I am and not just what they saw [last] season they know what I’m capable of,” he said.

“I can throw the ball down field. I can put the ball where I want to and make plays and win games. I’m not worried about last year.”

The shoulder is finally healthy, and Barkley said he’s got more zip on the ball in practice than last year. He didn’t let on a year ago how much the injury was affecting him. But he now admits it was.

“It was bearable, so I said it was fine,” he said with a laugh. “It wasn’t falling off or anything, but it definitely wasn’t the way it should have been. It wasn’t normal.

“It took some time to get used to throwing the way it hurt last year, but it’s all healed up. I’m surprised it took so long to heal, but it feels good now.

“It’s not painful, it’s not hurting, I’m not trying to force it. It feels back to being fluid and not having to think about it. Feels a lot better than last year."

Still, with the addition of veteran Mark Sanchez, Barkley is once again buried on the Eagles' depth chart (see story). In fact, during the open practices this week, he wasn’t just No. 3, he was sharing third-string reps with undrafted G.J. Kinne, who spent the second half of last year on the practice squad.

Barkley, speaking after practice on Tuesday, was asked if he feels like there really is open competition for the quarterbacks.

He sounded resigned when he answered.

“It’s kind of hard to see that,” he said. “But you know that it’s always a competition and [head coach Chip Kelly] has said that forever. Since he’s been at Oregon, there’s always a chance you could get in there and get reps, like the way it happened last year.

“So I’m not looking into any depth chart or numbers or anything, I’m just making every throw count.

“It’s different. But it’s similar to last year. Just one rep at a time and make it count.”

For the record, Barkley did complete 61 percent of his passes last year, which is pretty good -- actually 13th-highest in NFL history by a rookie who threw at least 40 passes.

But these days, he’s buried behind the Pro Bowl MVP and a backup who’s made two trips to the AFC championship game.

His reps are down, and Barkley is just trying to make the best of a tough situation.

“I think a quarterback would take every rep in practice he can get,” Barkley said. “Even in college, that was my M.O. But that’s not my decision. It’s the organization’s and my job is to make the right reads and complete balls and that’s all I’m worried about right now.”

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