Mike Vick wants starter named before camp

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Mike Vick wants starter named before camp

Mike Vick has an unrealistic request for Eagles coach Chip Kelly. Name a starting quarterback before the start of training camp.

“Hopefully, Chip makes a decision before training camp and we won’t have to answer that question,” Vick told CSNPhilly.com, “so we can go out there as quarterbacks and just focus on this season and not answer questions about competition every day.”

The quarterback battle between Vick and Nick Foles will be the dominant daily storyline at training camp this summer as the Eagles conduct their first open competition at the game’s most important position in 15 years.

Kelly, hired in January to replace the fired Andy Reid, has repeatedly said he wouldn’t be hurried into to declaring a starter and has said honest personnel decisions at any position can’t be made until the pads come out.

The Eagles wrapped up their final minicamp practice Thursday and won’t reconvene for practice at the NovaCare Complex as a full team until training camp starts July 26. Vick and Foles split first-team reps about 50-50 throughout the minicamps and both faced several questions about the impending competition.

Asked if tension could mount between he and Foles as the competition plays out this summer, Vick said, “Yeah, but hopefully we’ll have an answer by then, so I’m not going to answer that.

“I won’t want to continue to answer those questions. I won’t continue to answer those questions until Chip makes a decision.”

Reminded that Kelly has frequently said no timetable exists for the coaches to make a decision, Vick said, “Then I’m not gonna answer any questions.”

Dodging questions about the No. 1 theme of training camp could potentially bring some criticism his way, from media and fans. Many of Vick’s teammates will also be asked to weigh in on the race.

Vick isn’t concerned about any backlash that may come from being selective with questions he will answer.

“Why not? Who cares?” he said. “Y’all [in the media] kill me anyway, whether it’s right or wrong.”

A few moments later, Vick was approached again to make sure he understood that his comments were on the record. He responded by asking the reporter to print his request that Kelly settle on a starter before camp to avoid the rampant speculation.

“There’s better things to talk about,” Vick added.

Vick’s aspirations to be named the starter before camp directly contradicts Kelly’s repeated claims that he can’t evaluate positions without seeing his team in pads and simulating real game speed.

After the final camp practice, Kelly reiterated that his picture of the team is still highly incomplete.

“We have an understanding of their athletic ability and how they run, change direction and things like that. But there are still a lot of things to be evaluated when you put the pads on,” he said. “It's still a physical game. A lot of guys look great in shorts and T‑shirts, then they disappear when you put the pads on. Until we get the pads on, we can't tell.”

Perhaps Vick thought that he had already won the job when he accepted a major pay cut to preserve his roster spot. Vick restructured his deal in the offseason and stands to make $3.5 million in base salary this year, compared to Foles’ $500,000 salary. Sources close to Vick have always felt that he resigned with the idea that he would eventually be named the starter.

But in the months that have since passed, Kelly has not only reiterated that his quarterback competition would be open and expansive and that his offense didn’t need mobility from the quarterback but the team also drafted former USC quarterback Matt Barkley and added him to the race.

Barkley worked with the third team all throughout camp but Kelly has advised that reps and personnel groupings have meant nothing so far.

Moments before talking to a CSNPhilly.com reporter in the NovaCare Complex hallway, Vick had already expressed some honest frustration about splitting reps with Foles during the camps.

“It’s tough,” he said. “I have to continue to be a professional and put my feelings and emotions to the side, and just continue to compete. But it’s hard. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t, but that’s just what I have to deal with, and I’m going to keep dealing with it until I see otherwise.”

Vick’s remarks that he wouldn’t answer questions at camp pertaining to the quarterback battle doesn’t mean the quarterback plans to boycott the media.

Vick will answer all other questions and speak to the media as often as he usually does, according to a team spokesperson who talked to Vick about those comments made to CSNPhilly.com.

Since joining the Eagles in 2009 after serving a prison sentence for his role in funding a dog-fighting circuit, Vick has been one of the team’s most approachable and accommodating players.

Not since 1997, when Ty Detmer and Rodney Peete entered camp as sparring partners for the quarterback job, have the Eagles opened training camp without a clear No. 1. The advent of social media promises to bring a festival of attention on Vick and Foles. All of their passes will be chronicled, dissected, reported on and discussed through media reports and sports-talk radio.

Asked if the swarm of attention is good preparation for handling the responsibilities that come with being the franchise face, Foles said his attention has to be centered on the team, not handling the media.

“It can’t be on answering every single question,” he said. “We will do that, but at the same time our job is to play well and win games.”

Eagles bye week: Team soaring up national power rankings

Eagles bye week: Team soaring up national power rankings

After handling two inferior opponents in the Browns and Bears, the Eagles' Week 3 matchup with the Super Bowl-hopeful Steelers was viewed as a barometer to gauge just how good Carson Wentz and Co. really were.

Despite their 34-3 shellacking of the Steelers, no one came rushing to label the Eagles as the team to beat in the NFC nor as legitimate Super Bowl contenders less than a quarter of the way through the season, and understandably so. 

But as the Eagles go on their Week 4 bye, the national media has begun to buy stock in the Birds as a playoff team following their 3-0 start, a far cry from the bottom-five team many projected them to be in 2016.

Here's what they're saying about the Eagles during their bye week:

Power Rankings
Many in the national media expected the Eagles to flop in 2016, but since the start of the season the Birds have experienced a rapid rise in power rankings. 

ESPN: No. 7 

CBS Sports: No. 5 

FOX Sports: No. 5 

NFL.com: No. 6

USA Today:  No. 4

Carson Wentz for ... MVP?
Through the first three games of his NFL career Carson Wentz has been nothing short of stellar. The rookie quarterback has posted a 64.7 completion percentage, five touchdowns and a 103.8 passer rating, all while throwing zero interceptions. 

Is it safe to say Wentz is the early leader in the clubhouse for Offensive Rookie of the Year? Sure. How about for league MVP? It may sound crazy, but Jeff Dooley of The Washington Post would tab Wentz as the Most Valuable Player through three weeks for being the league’s best quarterback thus far.

"Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is off to the best three-game start that Pro Football Focus has ever recorded from a rookie QB in 11 seasons of grading players,” Dooley wrote. “His 90.5 grade (on a 0-100 scale) is not only better than the three-game starts of each of the star rookies from 2012’s renowned QB class (Indianapolis’ Andrew Luck, Washington’s Robert Griffin III and Seattle’s Russell Wilson, all of whom led their teams to the playoffs in Year 1, and by season’s end ranked among PFF’s top 15 quarterback grades), but it is the top mark among all QBs so far for the 2016 NFL season.”

Show the defense some love too
Enough Carson Wentz talk, how about this Eagles defense?

Jim Schwartz’s unit paces the NFL in total points allowed (27), is third in total sacks (10), fourth in yards per game (274.3) and seventh in total turnovers (eight).

Under the tutelage of Schwartz this defense has come a very long way since last season, when opposing offenses torched the Eagles for an average of 26.9 points on 400-plus yards per game. 

According to Kevin Patra of NFL.com, that improved defense is so important because it’s going to keep the Eagles alive in games when Wentz is having a rough outing.

"With Fletcher Cox making an early case for consideration behind Von Miller in the Defensive Player of the Year discussion, Brandon Graham in a defense better suited to his talents and a playmaking safety duo in Malcolm Jenkins and Rodney McLeod, the Eagles defense is soaring,” Patra wrote. “Through three games it's the prefect mesh of talent and scheme. If Wentz ever stumbles this season, the Eagles' D will be there to help prop up the rookie and get through a rough outing or three."

Playoffs?
The Eagles had the longest odds (plus-600) by a wide margin to come out of the NFC East before the season began. Now, they’re the favorites (2/1) to capture the division crown as they sit alone atop the NFC East.

There's still a lot of football left to be played, including all six division games, but the Birds simply reaching the playoffs for the first time since 2013 with a rookie quarterback and first-year head coach would be an impressive feat. 

According to Peter King of Sports Illustrated the Eagles' ceiling is even higher than just a division title and a playoff berth.

"It shouldn’t be happening this fast for the Eagles, coming up from 7-9 with a rookie head coach and a rookie quarterback from North Dakota State and a defense that needed a new leader," King wrote. "But it is, and there’s nothing fluky about it. The Eagles are legitimate deep-into-January contenders right now."

2017 NFL draft prospect watch: Corey Davis, James Washington, Courtland Sutton

2017 NFL draft prospect watch: Corey Davis, James Washington, Courtland Sutton

We lead this prospect watch with what else but wide receivers to help Eagles rookie phenom Carson Wentz.

We also look at an offensive lineman to help protect Wentz, a corner that could help Jim Schwartz's defense, and a local running back getting lost in a deep class.

Here are six players to watch on Saturday:

Corey Davis, senior WR, Western Michigan (6-3/213)
Davis' stock is skyrocketing and deservedly so. This kid can play. He's put up 24 catches for 395 yards and four touchdowns in four games. He'll take on Central Michigan, who took down Oklahoma State earlier this season. Watching Davis for the first hour of that game will be a nice appetizer before some of the bigger matchups.

Western Michigan at Central Michigan, 7 p.m.

James Washington, junior WR, Oklahoma State (6-1/205)
I profiled Washington earlier this week and now he'll get some decent competition against No. 22 Texas. He had a monster game against Pitt a couple weeks ago (9 catches, 296 yards, two TDs), but has lacked consistency overall this season.

Oklahoma State vs. No. 22 Texas, 12 p.m.

Courtland Sutton, redshirt sophomore WR, SMU, (6-4/215)
A tight end in high school, Sutton's speed was too great to keep playing that position. A redshirt sophomore, Sutton is averaging 24.9 yards a catch with four touchdowns this season. He'll be in our own backyard this Saturday afternoon when he takes on Temple at the Linc.

SMU at Temple, 12 p.m.

Chad Wheeler, senior OT, USC (6-6/310)
Wheeler's issues have nothing to do with his ability. He's a stud with great size and above average athleticism. But the massive left tackle has had issues off the field and with injuries. He should dominate against Arizona State on Saturday night.

USC vs. Arizona State, 8:30 p.m.

Cordrea Tankersley, senior CB, Clemson (6-1/200)
Tankersley could've joined the seven Clemson defenders that jumped to the NFL, but he decided to come back after having a strong junior campaign (19 passed defended, five picks). Tankerlsey has ideal NFL size and above average ball skills. His speed, which isn't quite elite level, will be tested against Heisman favorite Lamar Jackson and his speedy receivers.

No. 5 Clemson vs. No. 3 Louisville, 8 p.m.

Corey Clement, senior RB, Wisconsin (5-11/227)
The Glassboro, New Jersey native has been hampered by injuries but did manage to score two touchdowns in Wisconsin's upset of No. 17 Michigan State last week. With this running back class being so deep, Clement could be a sleeper that gets lost in the shuffle. He'll have a tall task competing against No. 4 Michigan on the road.

No. 8 Wisconsin at No. 4 Michigan, 3:30 p.m.