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Nick Foles entered camp this year after playing seven games (starting six) as rookie in 2012. He completed 60.8 of his passes for 1,699 yards with six touchdowns and five interceptions. (AP)
With the Broncos up 22 points and the two-minute warning approaching against the Ravens on Thursday night, NBC analyst Cris Collinsworth opined that Peyton Manning would come out for one final snap before exiting to an ovation. He didn’t. Manning took the final four snaps of a game far out of reach. Backup Brock Osweiler kept his baseball cap on.
That’s life when you’re the backup to a QB like Manning, who aside from 2011 has played every game of every season since 1998. Same goes for his younger brother Eli, who has played every game since 2005, and for another of the Eagles’ NFC East rivals in Tony Romo, who in 2009 became the first Cowboy in team history to take every single snap behind center.
Nick Foles is in a much different situation.
Foles will begin the year as the Eagles’ backup signal caller, but he’s in perhaps a better position than any backup in the NFL. He had a training camp full of shared snaps with the first-team offense, and he’s second in line to a quarterback who has played one full season in his 10-year career.
That’s one of the reasons Foles is preparing not to be Michael Vick’s backup, but as if he did win the Eagles’ QB competition.
“I don’t change the way I prepare, I always stay the same whether I’m starting or what the situation is,” Foles said after practice earlier this week. “I always get ready like I’m the starter, therefore if anything happens I’m ready.”
Something did happen last season. Vick suffered a concussion against the Cowboys in Week 10, forcing Foles into duty for 6½ games. That was valuable experience for Foles, even if most of it came behind a rag-tag offensive line and minus some of the Eagles’ top playmakers.
“Having the ability to say I’ve gone in there and I’ve played, I’ve experienced the games, I’ve experienced a hostile environment … obviously this is a new year, new season, but you just gain something,” the second-year QB said. “You gain that game feeling. I feel comfortable, and you just have to be ready for anything.”
And Foles will continue to prepare for anything, despite the fact that those first-team reps over the summer have all but disappeared.
“Whenever I’m out on the practice field, no matter if I’m doing reps or doing anything to help the defense, or doing individual drills, if I’m not doing that I’m doing mental reps,” Foles said. “Every single rep that we do in practice, I really visualize like ‘That’s me.’ So as many reps as we’re getting in practice, that’s how many I’m getting.”