Reid Lets Vick Off the Leash, Eagles Hold Players-Only Meeting

Reid Lets Vick Off the Leash, Eagles Hold Players-Only Meeting

After weeks of speculation, and a report on late Sunday evening that Andy Reid was making a switch under center for the Eagles' Week 9 tilt against the New Orleans Saints, the embattled head coach attempted to put the controversy to rest on Thursday. Reid confirmed Michael Vick will be his quarterback, and stressed it is not subject to a "week-to-week" basis.

Speaking at his normal weekly press conference that was postponed due to Hurricane Sandy, Reid finally gave Vick an emphatic endorsement. "Michael is, was and will continue to be our quarterback. This is not a week-to-week thing."

Reid's words were a major departure from the mood he projected immediately after the 30-17 loss to the Falcons, as well as heading into the bye week. When asked if he was committed to Vick as the starter before the bye, Reid responded, "Today, I am," which is hardly, "For always, and forever." On Sunday, he added fuel to the fire when he admitted he would "look at everything" once again when pressed about the quarterback.

Clearly feeling the pressure, Vick himself actually announced Reid was considering a change after Sunday's game. Reports that he had been given the hook proved erroneous on Wednesday though, and suddenly the head coach is standing squarely behind his franchise QB.

Or is he? I won't be the first to point this out, nor the last, but Reid has gone back on his word in the past, and specifically as it relates to his signal callers. Donovan McNabb was the man... until he wasn't. Kevin Kolb was the man... until he wasn't. With another subpar outing, Vick could still wind up being next on that list.

For now at least, the Nick Foles era remains on hold. With that much settled, the locker room is attempting to rally for their last stand over the final nine games of the season. According to reports, there was a players-only meeting on Wednesday, at which as many as 10 Eagles veterans apparently spoke out. As we all know, those meetings always fix everything.

Sarcasm aside, it's a good thing the Eagles realize their backs are against the wall, but you have to wonder if they're not too late, or if it even matters at all. A win in New Orleans on Monday night would get the Birds back to .500, so they're not out of the race just yet. However, they've dug themselves a sizable hole in a competitive NFC, and haven't looked as talented as many of us pictured to begin with when heading into the season.

At this point, it might be fair to suggest nothing can save the Eagles this year -- not a players-only meeting, nor a change at quarterback. It doesn't appear the team is ready to give up either, so maybe we should wait a week or two before calling it.

Pete Mackanin on Odubel Herrera's slump: 'He needs to battle his way out'

Pete Mackanin on Odubel Herrera's slump: 'He needs to battle his way out'

After an 0-for-5 day at the plate, Odubel Herrera isn't heading to the bench a day later.

He's leading off. 

Pete Mackanin chose to move the slumping centerfielder atop the lineup card for Friday's series opener against the Reds despite Herrera's striking out in all five plate appearances Thursday.

"I think he's a .290-plus hitter as a leadoff man and I'm not going to sit him," Mackanin said pregame. "He needs to battle his way out. You figure you're the leadoff hitter once a game. After that, it's wide open."

While he hasn't batted leadoff this season, Herrera spent the majority of his time in that spot last season. In 76 games there, he batted .285 with a .359 OBP and .417 slugging percentage. 

The leadoff hitter this season has been Cesar Hernandez, who has a day off with a groin pull he's dealt with the last 10 days. Herrera primarily has been the No. 3 hitter this season and his average is down to .226 with 49 strikeouts to just 11 walks. 

Mackanin hopes the leadoff role can help change Herrera's approach at the plate.

"He was drawing a lot of walks at leadoff, so whether he has that mindset or not, I'm not sure," the manager said. "I just want to get him as many at-bats as possible. We need to get him going. We need him and [Maikel] Franco to get going."

May specifically has been tough on Herrera. He has four hits in his last 36 at-bats and has seven strikeouts in his last two games. He has just seven hits in 22 games this month. 

"I think he's at the point where he's grinding and sometimes when you grind, sometimes there's that feeling where you get lost," Mackanin said. "I've been in situations as a hitter where I've gone up to the plate saying, 'I don't care where it is. I'm going up there and just hacking.' Because you start thinking and that's not working.

"And you look for a pitch and then all of a sudden you say I'm going to take a pitch to get a look at and it's strike one. Then he throws you a nasty slider and that's strike two and your plan is out the window. So I've gone up to the plate myself saying, 'I'm just looking down the middle and swinging. I'm not thinking.'"

When asked, Mackanin said the team had not discussed demoting Herrera or Franco to the minors to take pressure off the duo.

While Herrera tries to hit his way back into a groove, Howie Kendrick is in the midst of working his way back to the majors. He was hit by pitch twice in a rehab appearance Thursday but is back in the lineup Friday in left field. 

Mackanin said Kendrick needed four days minimum in his rehab assignment and will therefore play Friday and Saturday before the team sees how he feels.

The manager also said the team would give more playing time to backup catcher Andrew Knapp. He started consecutive games for the first time on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

"I'm going to try and see him as much as possible and keep him as sharp as possible instead of once a week," Mackanin said. "That's tough to hit, once a week. It's tough to hit twice a week if you don't hit back-to-back. There's no ulterior motive."

Report: Brett Brown accuses longtime friend of defrauding him of $750,000

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Report: Brett Brown accuses longtime friend of defrauding him of $750,000

Sixers head coach Brett Brown is in Australia this week, where he has accused longtime friend and former Australian men's national team assistant coach Shane Heal of defrauding him of $750,000, according to the Australian Associated Press.

Brown invested $250,000 into each of three companies for which Heal was the sole director. Brown wasn't given a legal title regarding the companies and didn't know the specifics of how the money would be used.

"I assumed that the money was going to be used for what Shane told me it was going to be used for," Brown said. "Because it was a friend that I had for 25 years."

Heal was charged last year by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission following an investigation relating to alleged misconduct in 2008, 2009 and 2010, according to the AAP.

The sides return to court in Brisbane on July 20.

Heal played in the NBA for the Minnesota Timberwolves in 1996-97 and was with the San Antonio Spurs in 2003.