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Michael Vick took the first-team QB reps Tuesday at practice. (AP)
Mike Vick wants to start. He’s optimistic he will start. He’s all but certain that he’ll start if his hamstring injury progress in the next few days the way it has the past few days.
But can he definitively stamp himself the starting quarterback against the Giants at the Linc on Sunday?
“I wish I could give you a definite answer on that,” he said Tuesday, “but I can’t right now.”
Vick, who missed the past two and a half games with a hamstring injury, returned as the first-team quarterback Tuesday at practice as he prepares to make his first start since Oct. 6 in a pivotal NFC East showdown (see story).
He claimed to be about 80 percent toward a full recovery and said the knot in his upper left leg is “kinda sorta” still there but loosening up more by the day.
Vick hasn’t yet tested the hamstring with a full sprint, but that moment is quickly approaching and will happen sometime this week.
“Not as of yet. It’s too early to try to do that,” he said. “I want to be real cautious about it and take it one game at a time and not push it.”
All signs point to Vick's rejoining the huddle Sunday against the Giants, who played Monday night and finally earned their first win.
Not only did the Eagles watch him practice in 11-on-11s for the first time since sustaining the injury, but they also only modestly addressed their quarterback depth even with backup Nick Foles out indefinitely while going through the NFL-mandated concussion recovery testing.
If the Eagles had real doubts about Vick’s ability to play, they would have made a stronger personnel move than re-signing quarterback G.J. Kinne, a training camp body who was waived at the roster cutdown, to the practice squad.
Vick cautioned against correlating Foles’ injury to his readiness to get back on the field. He called the situation “delicate.”
“You want to get back out there, you want to play and you want to help your teammates,” he said. “That’s what’s eating me up on the inside right now, so I wish I could tell you if it was going to speed up the recovery process.”
But when asked what would happen if Foles isn’t back by Sunday, Vick said he “absolutely, without a doubt,” would play.
Doesn’t that kinda, sorta mean he’ll start Sunday, since Foles is very unlikely to be ready?
“We’ll see,” he said. “I’m optimistic about it.”
Vick remains concerned about long-term damage and his ability to accelerate and move around laterally without re-injuring the hamstring. He’s cautious about trying to overdo his workload in practice and stunting the progress he’s made over the past two weeks.
The NFL’s all-time leader in quarterback rushing yards was asked if he could tone down on his scrambles and just play a pocket game if his hamstring didn’t feel 100 percent ready. He seemed to play both sides of the fence.
“If I’m out there, I’m giving it everything I got,” he said. “No holding back. I’ll never go out in a game and limit myself to what I can do -- unless I’ve already made up my mind to play that way. We’ll see. I’m excited about having the opportunity to play this week, if that’s what it calls for.”
Earlier, responding to a similar question, Vick said he “could pretty much set my mind to play however I want to play.”
“It’s all about the integrity of everything else that happens within the play,” he said. “I can’t be selfish and try to go out there and try to get it done on my own or try to be the hero. I’m going to do everything I can to get back out there.”
Vick seemed much more optimistic about starting than he did one day before the Oct. 13 Tampa game, when he said the road to full recovery could be long, and last Thursday, when he declared himself out against the Cowboys even though the team listed him as questionable.
Taking him at his word, it sounds as if Vick expects to play barring any major setback when he eventually tests out his hamstring with a full sprint.
“Whenever I can just do everything without thinking about it,” he said, “then that’s when I’ll make that determination.”