Nick Foles hadn't heard.

He's the quarterback who should be backing up Michael Vick. He's the heir apparent. He's the future, and Vick is on his way into the past.

That's how quickly Eagles fans anointed the rookie after his first quarter of professional football. To be fair, it's that way in almost every NFL-crazed town looking for a franchise quarterback.

And that last part - about the Foles era beginning and the Vick era nearing its end - didn't come from Philadelphia. It was just your average, looking-for-controversy/hits from the popular football (gossip) site ProFootballTalk.com.

Local fans understand that Foles has a long way to go before he can be considered a starting-caliber quarterback, let alone a backup. But after Vick provided a scare when he injured his thumb Thursday night, and Mike Kafka added to the anxiety with a shaky outing, it was understandable that many latched onto the rookie.

Foles completed 6 of 10 passes for 144 yards and two long touchdowns - a 70-yard pitch to fellow rookie Damaris Johnson and a perfectly placed throw to Mardy Gilyard from 44 yards out.

Kafka, meanwhile, completed just 5 of 9 passes for 31 yards and tossed a forgettable interception. Kafka has been the No. 2 quarterback on the depth chart since the winter, and the Eagles plan to give him every opportunity to hold the job, but he isn't making it easy.

"It's just one game," Foles said after the Eagles topped the Steelers, 24-23, in their preseason opener. "I'm just going to work every day, just trying to get better. . . . I still got a lot of work to do."

Coach Andy Reid stated as far back as February, after the Eagles signed veteran Trent Edwards, and again in April, after they drafted Foles in the third round, that the backup job was up for grabs. He reiterated that after the game.

"Everything is open," Reid said. "I keep it wide open at all positions. Whoever is playing the best is going to play."

It's difficult to judge if Foles - or even Edwards - is really playing better than Kafka. Each quarterback played about one quarter against Pittsburgh - a small sample - with each facing different levels of defense.

But one thing can't be disputed: The 6-foot-6, 243-pound Foles has the strongest arm of the three.

"I feel confident in my arm," Foles said. "A lot of throwing comes from the legs, too, just getting your legs under you. I've thrown a football since I was born. I've always loved throwing rocks or anything."

What kind of rocks? Skipping rocks, the 23-year-old said.

"When I was a kid my dad used to challenge me to see if I could throw it over creeks and lakes, just like any kid," Foles said.

He didn't skip many passes Thursday. On his touchdown pass to Johnson, he moved out of the pocket to his right, threw slightly across his body, and flicked the football 45 yards downfield.

That "was a big-time play right there," Reid said. "He got flushed to the right, and he maintained his eyes downfield. That's something you're always trying to teach quarterbacks to do, and it looked like it was pretty natural for him."

On the first play of the next possession, Foles went back to the air. He recognized the single coverage on Gilyard, looked the safety away, and fired a strike into the receiver's basket.

Foles had his errant throws - although tight end Brett Brackett let one go through his hands - but he never appeared to have that glazed look rookies sometimes get when the lights go on.

"It's football. I felt comfortable," Foles said. "I don't know what to say. It's the NFL. Everybody's moving faster, but I felt comfortable."

As confident as Reid has said he is in Kafka, it would not be a surprise if he moved on from the third-year quarterback. The coach isn't afraid to demote a quarterback for the betterment of the team (see Vick/Kevin Kolb, 2010).

If that were the case, he would still have to find a backup. It's unlikely Reid would throw the rookie into the No. 2 role at the start of the season, especially with Vick injury-prone. Edwards engineered a nice drive to win the game Thursday night, but he's been buried in practice for a reason. The throws just aren't there anymore.

It's probably too late to make a trade for a player like Colt McCoy, who is looking for a new team. More than likely, Reid will stay with Kafka, keep his fingers crossed, and hope that Foles can be ready at some point in the season.

Many fans believe he's ready now.

"Oh, man," Foles said when he was told of the early praise. "See, I just don't worry about that."