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Michael Vick clearly wasn’t the same guy the last two years as he was in 2010, and on Tuesday, he tried to explain why.
Vick, who agreed Monday to a contract restructure to remain with the Eagles in 2013, said on an ESPN radio show that one of his problems over the past two seasons -- when he was a combined 10-13 in 23 starts -- was that he was too concerned about injury.
“You have to be very cautious and meticulous about what you’re doing on the field but not to a point where it takes away from your game because once you try not to get hurt, that’s when you get hurt,” Vick said on the Mike and Mike Show, co-hosted by former Eagles defensive lineman Mike Golic and Mike Greenberg.
Vick has spoken in the past of playing not to get hurt. He said in 2009 that he was playing “not to get hurt” in a 2003 preseason game with the Falcons against the Ravens and ended up breaking his leg and missing the first 11 games of the regular season.
He said at the time he had learned his lesson. But apparently he didn’t.
“What I have to do is go out and play lights-out football and not worry about getting hurt,” Vick said. “I think over the last two years I was trying to protect myself, trying to make sure I was out on the football field with my teammates and putting too much effort into not being injured.”
Vick has missed 10 games because of injury since replacing Kevin Kolb as the Eagles’ starting quarterback early in 2010.
He missed three games in both 2010 and 2011 with broken ribs and four last year with a concussion. By the time he was cleared to play, he had lost his job to rookie Nick Foles. When Foles was hurt late in the season, Vick started the season finale against the Giants, a 42-7 loss at the Meadowlands.
That was Andy Reid’s last game with the Eagles and presumed to be Vick’s final game with the Eagles as well. But his meeting with new coach Chip Kelly went so well that Kelly and Vick both agreed that Vick would return to Philly, with his 2013 salary getting slashed from $15.5 million to $7.5 million.
“Initially I weighed my options, and the city of Philadelphia has been great to me, the organization has been great,” Vick said. “I’ve enjoyed it, my ride there, my experience.
“Meeting with Chip for the first time, I felt as if we could make it work because we had an opportunity to work together.”
Kelly said Monday that Vick and Foles will both get reps with the starting offense when offseason practices begin in April, and said there’s open competition between the two.
The Michael Vick of 2001 through 2010 may have been a perfect fit for Kelly’s Warp-drive offense, but Vick -- who turns 33 in June -- doesn’t appear to be the same guy as he was in his prime.
His 5.4-yard rushing average last year was the lowest of his career and well below his NFL-record 7.2 average entering the season, and it appeared that all the injuries had taken a permanent toll on Vick.
But Vick said he believes he can still be the same guy who went to the Pro Bowl after the 2002, 2004, 2005 and 2010 seasons with a combination of a rocket arm and electrifying legs.
“The types of offenses that are being ran now, which a lot of guys are having success at, I ran in 2006 and I ran for 1,000 yards doing it,” he said. “It wasn’t hard, the only thing you have to do is train.
“I feel like I still can do that. To what level, I don’t know, but the way I feel, I feel like I can do it at a high level. ...
“I’m motivated now to get back into tip-top shape, to come back and try to be ... one of the elite quarterbacks in the league again.”
Vick has not won a playoff game since the 2004 conference semifinals, when the Falcons beat the Rams, 47-17. A week later, the Falcons lost to the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game at the Linc.
Since then, 28 different NFL quarterbacks have won at least one playoff game. In his only postseason start with the Eagles, Vick threw for 292 yards but had a costly interception in the end zone in the closing seconds of a 21-16 loss to the Packers at the Linc.
After going 8-2 in his first 10 starts with the Eagles, Vick has won just 10 of his last 25 starts.
His passer rating last year was 78.1, 23rd-best out of 29 quarterbacks who threw at least 300 passes and lowest by an Eagles quarterback since Donovan McNabb had a 77.8 mark in his first year as a full-time starter.
Despite playing in just 10 games, Vick ranked fourth in the NFL with 11 fumbles, most by an Eagle since Rodney Peete committed 13 in 1995. Including his 10 interceptions, he committed 21 total turnovers, more than two per game.
“What I want to try to accomplish playing in this league, my own personal goals, I would like to play another four years, another four or five years,” Vick said.
“I’m not focusing on next year, I’m not focusing on what happened in the past, I’m focused on the next down. That’s going to be my mindset going into 2013. What can I do on the next down?
“As of right now, at this point in my life, I’m motivated to become one of the best.”