Will Michael Vick be effective if he can’t run?

Will Michael Vick be effective if he can’t run?

The good news for the Eagles is Michael Vick is expected to play on Sunday—at least that’s the consensus among reporters. Chip Kelly sounds far less convinced, although who knows how much of that is gamesmanship on the head coach’s part.

The bad news is Vick’s hamstring still may not be 100 percent by Sunday even if he does start the game. The four-time Pro Bowler hasn’t even tried running at full speed yet, nor will he until Friday. That begs the question how effective will he be against the Giants if he’s limited in any way?

It goes without say that running is a huge part of Vick’s game. After all, he is the NFL’s all-time leading rusher among quarterbacks. His 5,858 yards on the ground account for 21.5 percent of his career production.

More importantly, the rushing yards help sustain the offense when he struggles as a passer. In their Week 5 meeting against New York, Vick only connected on 6 of 14 passes for 105 yards before leaving the game late in the second quarter, but he was still able to lead the Philly’s offense to 16 points thanks in part to his 79 yards on the ground.

Unfortunately, Vick’s inefficiency as a passer has been more of a problem this season than some might realize, especially recently. His 90.6 passer rating doesn’t look bad, but that’s buoyed by strong performances in Weeks 1 and 2. In his last three games, that number drops to 66.3.

Against Kansas City, Denver, and the Giants, Vick completed 46.5 percent of his passes for 554 yards (7.8 AVG) with one touchdown and two interceptions. He ran 19 times for 219 yards.

Besides the production that would go missing, another potential issue is whether Vick can elude pass rushers in the backfield. If not, he’ll have to shorten the NFL’s longest release time, which is something many have been calling on him to do since basically forever.

The problem of course is even if Vick isn’t able to run around much, the Eagles don’t have many other options. Nick Foles’ status is up in the air because of a concussion, and even if cleared, he missed practice all week which he sorely needs after Sunday’s debacle. Matt Barkley didn’t win any new fans with his performance against Dallas either.

It certainly isn’t reasonable to put much stock in Barkley’s performance in that fourth quarter of action. A rookie coming off the bench cold for his first NFL game down by 14 doesn’t stand much of a chance most of the time.

Still, it’s hard to view him as Philly’s best option this week, and Vick was reportedly getting the majority of the first-team snaps in practice, so they certainly aren’t prepping Barkley as if he were making his first start.

Chip would not describe himself as comfortable with his situation at quarterback on Wednesday, and it’s easy to understand why. It’s hard to argue Vick is the same player when you take his mobility away, and even those rushing yards aren’t always enough on those days he can’t locate his rhythm in the passing game.

The Giants suddenly don’t look like pushovers either. They shut down Minnesota’s one-dimensional offense on Monday, and have been fairly competitive since getting off to an abysmal start. If they sense blood in the water at the Linc, it could be a long day for Vick.

That’s if he plays. Kelly said he expects Vick to play, but remained non-committal over the starting quarterback, leaving at least a shred of doubt about Vick’s availability. If the head coach doesn’t like what he sees on Friday, who knows—it could be Barkley being backed up by G.J. Kinne on Sunday.

Most likely, the Eagles will decide even a stationary Vick gives them a better chance to beat the Giants than a fourth-round rookie. It will be interesting to see how effective No. 7 can be if running isn't part of his game.

CSN, TCN to air 25 of Union's 34 games in 2017

CSN, TCN to air 25 of Union's 34 games in 2017

Twenty-five of the Union’s 34 games in 2017 will be featured on CSN and TCN, as Jim Curtin’s club vies for a second straight playoff berth.

Twenty matches will air on TCN, while five can be seen on CSN. The nine others will be appear across 6ABC, ESPN and FOX Sports 1.

The Union’s season opener on March 5 at the Vancouver Whitecaps will broadcast on TCN and the team’s home opener on March 11 against Toronto FC will air on CSN. The next three games — March 18 at Orlando City SC, April 1 at D.C. United and April 8 vs. the Portland Timbers — will be shown on TCN.

The Union are coming off an 11-14-9 season and their second-ever trip to the MLS playoffs in which they suffered a first-round exit to Toronto FC.

For the Union’s full 2017 schedule, click here.

Best of NHL: Toews nets hat trick in Blackhawks' win over Wild

Best of NHL: Toews nets hat trick in Blackhawks' win over Wild

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Jonathan Toews had three goals and two assists and the Chicago Blackhawks beat rival Minnesota 5-3 on Tuesday night for their second win over the Western Conference-leading Wild in less than two weeks.

Toews notched his fourth career hat trick on an empty-netter with 1:02 left to stave off a spirited rally by the Wild, who began a franchise-record eight-game homestand on Feb. 8 with a 4-3 overtime loss to the Blackhawks. Toews had a goal and two assists in that one and has 37 points in 35 career games against Minnesota.

Chicago's captain has been chewing up almost everyone else, too, with 20 points in his last 12 games. Toews' wing men Nick Schmaltz and Richard Panik had the other goals, giving the Blackhawks 34 goals in their last eight games. Their first line totaled nine points.

Mikael Granlund's second power-play goal for the Wild brought them within 4-3, before Ryan Suter hit the crossbar with a shot that nearly tied it (see full recap).

Islanders open 9-game road trip with win
DETROIT -- Calvin de Haan was credited with a go-ahead goal that caromed off an opponent late in the second period and the New York Islanders went on to beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-1 Tuesday night.

De Haan's shot from above the left circle was stopped by Petr Mrazek, but the rebound went off Detroit defenseman Xavier Ouellet and the back of the goaltender's left leg and into the net. John Tavares scored early in the third period to give the Islanders a two-goal lead and they coasted to the victory.

Josh Bailey had a goal and an assist, and Thomas Greiss stopped 26 shots for New York.

Henrik Zetterberg scored for Detroit and Mrazek finished with 19 saves.

The Islanders, in contention for a wild-card spot, began a stretch of nine straight road games by winning for the third time in four games and improved to 8-13-4 away from home (see full recap).

Crosby, Penguins take care of Hurricanes
RALEIGH, N.C. -- Sidney Crosby scored the go-ahead goal on a deflection in the second period, and the Pittsburgh Penguins beat the Carolina Hurricanes 3-1 on Tuesday night.

Evgeni Malkin and Scott Wilson also scored to help the reigning Stanley Cup champions bounce back from their only loss since the All-Star break. Pittsburgh moved three points behind East-leading Washington and is 7-1-3 since the break.

Jeff Skinner scored for the last-place Hurricanes, who have their second five-game losing streak in the past five weeks. They have been outscored 19-4 during the current slide.

Matt Murray made 29 saves for the Penguins while Cam Ward stopped 19 shots for Carolina (see full recap).