Eagles Extra: What to look for in Eagles-Buccaneers
During the preseason, Matt Barkley went 32 for 63 for 309 yards, one touchdown and one interception. (AP)
It didn’t work out the way he hoped. Like any player, Matt Barkley wanted to win a starting job. Shortly after landing with the Eagles, he said so (see story). He maintained that position as summer funneled into fall (see story).
It was a natural stance. He wanted to play. But Barkley, as he and everyone else learned, was never really in the quarterback competition. He spent training camp and the preseason with the third team. That’s where he’s been on the depth chart ever since -- third, behind Michael Vick and Nick Foles.
That might change this Sunday. Vick -- who’s dealing with a hamstring injury -- is expected to be out when the Eagles travel to Tampa Bay (see story). That would move Foles into the starter’s job and press Barkley into backup duty.
“In my eyes, it’s just another week,” Barkley said following practice at the NovaCare Complex on Wednesday. “The fact that I get reps with the offense is almost a bonus. I’m just taking it and approaching it as I have the previous weeks of the season -- like I am playing. Hopefully Mike gets healthy as soon as possible, but Nick and I are ready to take over in the meantime. It’s a little more exciting than a normal week, I’d say, but my mindset hasn’t changed from a preparation standpoint.”
Maybe the mindset hasn’t changed, but the reps have. During a normal week, Barkley spends a lot of time in practice off to the side with quarterbacks coach Bill Lazor and other practice players. Barkley will throw routes that might be used in the upcoming game, but he’s seldom included in the actual offensive preparation. Then, on Sunday, Barkley will throw “90 or 100 balls” to other practice players in an attempt to “stay sharp.” He admitted that’s hard to do given the fact that “service reps” aren’t the same as reps with the offense, and they certainly aren’t the same as playing in real game.
“It’s just different,” Barkley said. “If I was playing, I would get those reps. You have to approach it differently. You’re not playing, so you have to approach those reps differently and focus on mental reps and try to get as much tape in as you can and prepare yourself.”
During the preseason, Barkley went 32 for 63 for 309 yards, one touchdown and one interception. He was recovering from a separated shoulder, which he injured late last year while he was still the quarterback at USC. Barkley revealed that the shoulder was “really hurting during OTAs” but has “come a long way” since then. He said the shoulder “feels the strongest it’s been all year” and added that "I’ve got more power on the ball, more zip.”
“I think Matt's done a nice job,” Chip Kelly said about Barkley's development. “It's hard when you have three quarterbacks and getting reps and things like that. “Matt does a really good job on the scout squad. I know [quarterbacks coach] Billy [Lazor] takes those guys individually every day during one of our team periods, whether it’s Nick or Matt, and takes them to a throwing progression. We've worked Matt out every day before every Sunday before games. I've seen Matt improve, and I think the one thing about Matt is he loves football. So he's around here all the time. He studies all the time. Obviously, he's not going to have as many reps as you would feel really comfortable in with a guy getting thrown into that situation. [He’s] not going to have the reps that Nick had, but I feel comfortable in what Matt can do as a quarterback.”